Israel Hayom newspaper.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The publication of Israel Hayom is not illegal election campaigning and the daily newspaper may continue operations, Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran ruled on Tuesday.
Attorney Shahar Ben-Meir had petitioned against the newspaper owned by American billionaire and ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sheldon Adelson.
Joubran ordered Ben-Meir to pay NIS 16,000 in legal costs to Netanyahu, the Likud, Israel Hayom, Adelson and the paper’s editor-in-chief, Amos Regev, plus a NIS 4,000 fine to the state.
Ben-Meir’s petition called to avoid printing “election propaganda that it has been publishing for many years, for the candidate for the 20th Knesset Netanyahu, as it is illegal election campaigning.”
According to Ben-Meir, Israel Hayom is a “propaganda platform for a candidate, which is disguised as a newspaper.”
The newspaper’s representatives told the committee that it has an ideology similar to that of the prime minister, but there is nothing wrong with that and it does not prove that they are otherwise connected.
Israel Hayom also said that, until the paper was founded eight years ago, the Israeli media were controlled by Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz, which promote a specific ideology, and to silence Israel Hayom so close to the election would silence one side of the political map and harm freedom of expression.
Joubran wrote that, while the connection between election campaigns and journalism, and public debate over newspapers with a political ideology, should be discussed, the Central Elections Committee is not the place to do it.
This is not the first time Ben- Meir was active on the media front. In 2013, Ben-Meir filed a lawsuit without Haaretz’s support that was intended to help the newspaper, TheMarker reported.
He sued Nochi Dankner, who was controlling shareholder of IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. at the time, for dropping its advertising in the left-wing daily from 10 percent of IDB’s ads to 0.4 percent, saying doing so would put the newspaper out of business.
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