Netanyahu and Bennett.
(photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the concerns about the future of public broadcasting on Wednesday, saying it will be “continuous, available and effective.”
In a clear reference to Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, both from of Bayit Yehudi, the prime minister said their current concern over freedom of the press “does not fit in with their efforts [in 2014] to close down the [pro-Netanyahu] Israel Hayom newspaper. That is not exactly freedom of the press. Apparently there are other things that are guiding them.”
Netanyahu’s comments came in response to a question while touring a new security barrier under construction in the South Hebron Hills.
Bennett wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday that “more and more bills that limit the press are advancing, and causing me deep worry about the future of freedom of expression in Israel. A free press is the basis of democracy.”
In a speech to the settler organization Amana on Wednesday, Bennett repeated that it appeared to him that “more and more bills are intended to tame the press.”
In what will be seen by Netanyahu as an act of rebellion, Bayit Yehudi’s ministers are expected to vote on Sunday against a controversial plan by Netanyahu to extend the tenure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Kulanu ministers are also expected to oppose the plan.
The IBA had been set to be replaced by the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation on October 1.
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The coalition agreement states that parties in the government must support Netanyahu’s moves on communications- related issues. But Bayit Yehudi sources said they interpret the clause to refer to reforms, not the delay of implementing reforms.
It remained unclear on Wednesday night whether thecabinet will also vote on Sunday to approve a mini cabinet reshuffle.
The reshuffle is expected to include Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud receiving the Environmental Protection portfolio, the Economy portfolio going to Kulanu, and the Likud’s Haim Katz’s Welfare portfolio receiving key responsibilities of the Economy portfolio.
Netanyahu is expected to remain foreign minister, communications minister, and minister of regional cooperation, though Minister-without- Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) received responsibility for some communications issues Netanyahu could not deal with due to a conflict of interest.
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