Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File].
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met twice Sunday in an effort to resolve their dispute over public broadcasting that could lead to an early election.
The first meeting took place when Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman led a walkout from the weekly meeting of heads of coalition parties, leaving Netanyahu and Kahlon to meet alone against the prime minister’s will. That meeting lasted only 15 minutes due to time constraints and no breakthrough was reported.
Netanyahu summoned Kahlon to a second meeting six hours later in which professional staff participated in an attempt to reach a new agreement. Progress was made in that meeting, and follow-up meetings are set to take place Monday.
The heads of United Torah Judaism, Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni, along with the head of Shas, Interior Minister Arye Deri, made clear to Netanyahu ahead of the first meeting that if he initiated an election, they would not guarantee to support him in forming the next government.
“Everything must be done to prevent elections from taking place,” Litzman said. “We won’t agree to advancing the election, and we won’t cooperate with it.”
Deri participated in part of the first Netanyahu-Kahlon meeting in an effort to mediate between the two. Gafni suggested that, rather than go to elections, Netanyahu should add the Zionist Union to the coalition.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich responded, however, that entering the government would be a blow from which the party could not recover.
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Opposition leader Isaac Herzog asked Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to prevent Netanyahu from dealing with a proposed bill enabling more governmental supervision of the press, due to Netanyahu’s conflicts of interest.
Netanyahu has signed legal documents that he will not deal with some key media outlets due to his friendship with their owners.
Mandelblit has not made a decision on the matter.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said the opposition of Shas and UTJ to advancing the election proved Netanyahu’s statement about initiating it was an empty threat.
“The prime minister’s obsession with the press and his insistence on forcing his will on journalists’ content and appointments have overcome his good senses and, as a result, Netanyahu is losing his political power.”Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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