Hot and Yes.
(photo credit: PR)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Wednesday hobbled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his role as communications minister, ordering him to stay out of competition issues between telecommunication giants Yes and Hot due to a conflict of interest.
According to Mandelblit, Netanyahu is too close to Shaul Alubitz, the controlling shareholder of Yes, Bezeq, Pelophone, Bezeq Beinleumi, Halal Communications and Walla News, to be objective in handling issues related to his interests.
The attorney-general’s ruling does not only apply to decisions directly involving Yes and the other companies under Alubitz’s control, but also to decisions that indirectly impact their competition with others.
In areas where the only competitors are Yes and Hot, the prime minister must stay out entirely of all issues.
In areas where Yes is competing with multiple other competitors, Netanyahu can be involved in some decisions, but no those that specifically involve Yes.
Mandelblit ordered Netanyahu to transfer his authorities on issues where he has a conflict of interest to another minister.
The Prime Minister’s Office had not responded by press time.
Knesset Economic Affairs Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said that it was incumbent upon Netanyahu to appoint a communications minister.
“There are many issues on the Economic Affairs Committee’s doorsteps that require the decisions and cooperation of a full-time communications minister. Sadly, the current communications minister [Netanyahu] is only advancing the ministry’s issues behind the scenes,” he said.
Prof. Aviad Hacohen, the dean of the Academic Center of Law and Science, said, however, that the ruling had gone too far.
The conflict-of-interest rules, he said, were designed to stop bad things from happening before they start. “However, not every suspicion disqualifies a minister from being responsible for the ministry, even when it’s a suspicion of a conflict of interest,” he said.
There were other ways beside a full ban, he added, of “neutralizing” such a conflict.