Culture Minister Miri Regev cabinet meeting March 11, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MKs from the opposition celebrated on Wednesday after successfully filibustering Culture Minister Miri Regev’s proposed reforms for the film industry.
Regev had hoped her amendments to the Film Law would pass into law before the Knesset goes on recess this week.
But after the prolonged efforts of several opposition lawmakers, the bill has been shelved until at least the winter session of the Knesset.
“This is an important win for democracy and for the freedom of expression in Israeli culture,” said Zionist Union MK Miki Rosenthal on Wednesday. “I call on the culture minister: Do you want to pass this law? Come and talk to us, abandon your bullying and give up the clauses seeking to silence people.”
The most dramatic of Regev’s proposed changes was an overhaul of how government funding for the film industry is distributed. Instead of being funneled through a variety of film funds, the culture minister proposed creating a group of script readers subordinate to her ministry; the film funds would be required to hire 70% of their script readers from that body.
But in hearings in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee over the past week, MKs and industry figures slammed the bill as poorly prepared and as designed to allow Regev to block funding for films she doesn’t like.
After hearing that the bill will not come to a vote before the Knesset ends its summer session, Regev placed the blame on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
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The speaker had earlier declared that all committee hearings must end at 10 a.m. to allow voting in the Knesset plenum to begin. He declined Regev’s request to grant her an exemption in order to continue the debate on the Film Law.
“The behavior of Yuli Edelstein stems from a personal place and not a professional one,” Regev said in a statement on Wednesday. “It shouldn’t be that a personal desire for retribution comes to harm the work of government ministries.”
The two Likud officials have previously feuded publicly, including over Edelstein’s role in the 70th Independence Day celebrations earlier this year, which Regev sought to minimize.
Edelstein countered Regev’s claim Wednesday by saying that his decisions “have been and always will be professional.”
The Knesset speaker said it was decided at the beginning of the week that all committee hearings must be completed by Wednesday at 10 a.m., regardless of their content.
On Wednesday morning, in the final hours available to prepare the bill to pass a second and third vote, Zionist Union MK Yossi Yonah presented dozens of reservations to the legislation, ensuring it would not be ready in time.
“This is a win for the opposition,” Yonah celebrated after the bill was shelved. “The hundreds of reservations that we presented against the vengeful Film Law succeeded in pushing off the vote on the bill,” the MK said. “We will continue to fight for the good of art and Israeli creativity.”
The legislation could return to the agenda when the Knesset reconvenes in October.
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