Culture minister blasted for wanting to change Independence Day ceremony

Critics of Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said she was trying to give a platform to her party leader Netanyahu ahead of what could be an early election.

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September 27, 2017 19:46
1 minute read.
Miri Regev at Gush Etsion

Minister Miri Regev at Gush Etsion September 27 17 . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) received criticism on Wednesday for her plan to change the state ceremony marking the transition from Remembrance Day to Independence Day.

The annual ceremony on Mount Herzl features remarks by the speaker of the Knesset and the lighting of 12 torches symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel by citizens who have made a significant contribution to society.

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Regev, who heads the ministerial committee on state ceremonies and symbols, wants to add a speech on stage by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who already ruffled feathers last year by sending a video message.

She told a meeting of the ministerial committee that due to the 70th birthday of the state that will be marked at this April’s ceremony, it will be a larger event than in previous years, with visits by world leaders.

She said she hoped US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would attend.

Regev said an event of that magnitude required an address by the prime minister. But the representative of the Knesset at the meeting objected, saying it would harm the stature of the Knesset speaker, who has given the main address at the event for many years.

Critics of Regev said she was trying to give a platform to her party leader Netanyahu ahead of what could be an early election.

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Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay accused Netanyahu and Regev of turning what should be an apolitical ceremony into a photo opportunity.

“This is the way the Bibi-Miri government looks,” Gabbay said.

“While they continue trying to divide the country, we will continue acting professionally and try to unite people.”

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