ARIEH O’SULLIVAN, ‘IBA English News’ anchor, plays the blues as the Israel Broadcasting Authority is shut down, in front of the IBA building in the capital’s Romema neighborhood.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The High Court of Justice on Monday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for its handling of the public broadcasting crisis.
An injunction issued by the court on Sunday night stopped the splitting of the news department from the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation, or Kan, until petitions against such an action have been heard. On Monday, the court extended the injunction until a final decision has been reached.
The decision by the court to intervene was a blow to Netanyahu, who wanted Kan’s news division run by a separate entity staffed by journalists from the former Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The prime minister succeeded in taking away news broadcasts from Kan by getting legislation passed in the Knesset. But thanks to the court, that law is not being implemented and on Monday, Kan premiered its radio and TV broadcasts under its own authority.
The court issued the injunctions after a petition was submitted by Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel and others protesting the eighth amendment to the Public Broadcasting Law – passed by the Knesset last week – that called for a separate news corporation to be established, which would be run by the same people who did that same job at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, along with others who have been contracted by Kan.
The court has not yet issued a final ruling on accepting the petitions or say when it might issue one.
In criticizing the law, Justice Yitzhak Amit said: “This petition raises complex issues and was not done with full Knesset legal adviser guidance. There is an elephant in the room and it is: What is the purpose? For what? Dozens of Knesset members sat for months. There is an elephant in the room about what is the purpose and you have not answered. You passed the law because it is legal. Doesn’t the Knesset legal adviser need to give an opinion about this? I won’t say that this disqualifies the law, but when there is a law with no purpose... that is the critique.”