Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog addresses young voters at Tel Aviv University.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
When Gilad Erdan was minister of communications in the previous government, he persuaded the Knesset to agree to the dismantling of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the establishment of another, more streamlined and more cost efficient broadcasting enterprise in its stead.
When the resolution was adopted 11 months ago, March 2015 was set as the target date for the launch of the new venture. As was widely expected, that changeover did not take place as scheduled, and an extension was approved. A second extension followed till the end of September, and as things stand now, there is little likelihood that any progress will be made, said an informed source within the IBA.
In that case, according to the IBA, the resolution will go back to the cabinet for discussion.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union does not want to wait that long. He proposed a bill on Monday which would create a whole revolution in Israeli communications.
Herzog’s bill would dismantle the Communications Ministry, which is currently in the custody of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with several other ministries. Herzog wants to replace the ministry with an independent communications authority that would not be under any kind of political pressure or supervision.
At a Zionist Union faction meeting on Monday, Herzog said that if Netanyahu cannot keep his hands off communications, the opposition will block his path completely and will make sure that politicians can no longer withhold budgets for communications or place other obstacles in the path of communications. Herzog said the bill is designed to safeguard the independence of Israel’s communications outlets.
Meanwhile, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, announced at its first meeting on Monday that he will summon Netanyahu and Kahlon to provide answers with regard to public broadcasting. In previous years, Cabel and Herzog were at different time the ministers responsible for the IBA.
Cabel intends to establish a sub-committee to closely monitor anything and everything to do with the IBA.
At the IBA, management and staff welcomed the efforts being made by Herzog and Cabel, explaining that under the status quo, only people close to retirement age are permitted to retire with a generous severance pay package. Others in their fifties who would like to leave cannot do so, because the Finance Ministry will not make the necessary funds available.
Therefore, hundreds of people are living in limbo, not being able to plan for tomorrow or to simply leave, because the chances of middle aged people finding alternative employment are very slim. “Everyone’s in a state of depression,” said one veteran employee.