Netta Barzilai (L) poses for a photo with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Sara Netanyahu (R), May 16th, 2018,.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
When Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision competition earlier this year, she succeeded in both bringing the contest to Israel and ultimately amending the law that created Israel’s new public broadcaster.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that he will drop his longstanding demand to split up Kan into two independent bodies.
Netanyahu made the decision in the wake of Israel’s Eurovision win
, and in order to ensure that the country is able to host the competition next year.
Last year, after months of negotiations, Kan hit the airwaves, replacing the long-running Israel Broadcasting Association. But Netanyahu was unhappy with how he saw the station’s news division shaping up, and allowed the law creating Kan to move forward on one condition. That condition was the separation of its news department from its other programming. But that move was temporarily halted when the High Court of Justice issued an injunction against it last year.
What does all that have to do with Eurovision?
In order for Kan to partake of – and host – the singing competition, it must be a member of the European Broadcasting Union. And in order to qualify for EBU membership, public broadcasters must air both news and entertainment programming. Because of the looming split, the EBU granted Kan only temporary membership, which allowed it to participate in – and win – the 2018 competition.
Netanyahu met on Tuesday morning with Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Culture Minister Miri Regev,
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, among others, to discuss the matter.
“The attorney-general expressed his opinion that the ‘Splitting Law’ could interfere with hosting the Eurovision in Israel,” Kara said. “Because of that, it was agreed to amend the legislation in regards to splitting the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, to ensure that the Eurovision can be held in Israel.”
Shortly after Barzilai won, Kara turned to Mandelblit in order to request that the High Court issue a ruling on the law as quickly as possible. Last week, the court told the state it had a week to update or amend its opinion on the issue.
Last year, EBU officials told The Jerusalem Post that Kan had only temporary membership, pending the High Court ruling. Once the legislation has been amended, Kan can apply for full membership, putting any legal concerns about hosting the competition to rest.
Yair Tarchitsky, chairman of the Union of Journalists in Israel, said Tuesday that it is “too early to celebrate, but we welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intention to promote a law that will cancel the law splitting the Israeli public broadcaster. We are happy that at the end of the day, our petition to the High Court froze the split and allowed Netanyahu to back down and cancel this unnecessary process.”
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said that “the prime minister should send a letter of thanks to the European Broadcasting Union, that saved him from the pit called ‘splitting up the public broadcaster.’ It was a bad idea, and it remains one.”
Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel tweeted, “We won! The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation will not be split!”
Cabel added that Netanyahu’s decision “is due largely to the win of Netta Barzilai... I’m proud of the privilege I had to lead this campaign with many other good people from the first moment until this victory.”
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