IBA closure delayed, opposition keeps Knesset up all night

Officially, the law is meant to allow the government extra time to prepare for the change in public broadcasting, but Kan said it is ready to begin working.

January 3, 2017 19:36
2 minute read.
"Kan," the new public broadcaster's logo.

"Kan," the new public broadcaster's logo.. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

The Knesset voted to delay the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the opening of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, known as “Kan,” to the end of April, following an all-night filibuster attempt in the Knesset ending early Tuesday morning.

The new law prevents Kan from starting broadcasts before April 30.

The opposition has said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the communications portfolio, is trying to defang Kan and make it beholden to him. Netanyahu and Likud MKs have lamented what they say is a leftist slant in the journalists hired to manage and report for Kan.

Officially, the law is meant to allow the government extra time to prepare for the change in public broadcasting, but Kan said it is ready to begin working, and the legislation came shortly after Knesset Economics Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) activist attorney Eldad Yaniv petitioned to the High Court of Justice demanding the government allow Kan to begin broadcasting immediately.

Cabel said: “This is how [Netanyahu] wants [Kan]: Every day he’ll wake up, open the radio and the television and say, ‘TV, TV on the wall, who’s the smartest man of all?’ And then the answer from the other side will be ‘You, Benjamin Netanyahu, first and foremost, are the greatest of all.’” MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid), who was chairwoman of the Knesset committee on the IBA reform that led to the plan to replace it with Kan, said the bill is a purely political deal.

“It can’t be that this deal will cost – and this is a modest estimate – NIS 160 million,” she stated. “And then the Finance Minister says this was a social budget. If this was so good for social needs, NIS 160 million wouldn’t go to the communications minister’s whims...without really solving anything.

We’re going to be back here again on April 30. I’m not a prophet, I just see a pattern of behavior that has repeated itself several times, because someone decided not to make a decision out of hope that people will despair and say, OK, we don’t want [Kan] anymore.”

According to Elharrar, Netanyahu is trying to delay the opening of Kan because the law disconnects it from political influence, thus precluding him from having any control over it.

“It’s eating him from the inside,” Elharrar added.

MK Yael Cohen-Paran (Zionist Union) read Yertle the Turtle by Dr.Seuss as part of her speech. The story was originally written as a parable of Hitler, but Cohen-Paran presented it as one about Netanyahu.

The opposition continued its speeches against for over 12 hours, lasting until 7 a.m. Ten Zionist Union and two Yesh Atid MKs spoke out against the bill for 50 minutes each, to a mostly-empty plenum.

The Knesset does not allow for actual filibustering, in the sense that long debates don’t cancel a vote, but the opposition uses the tactic to delay votes and distract and aggravate the opposition.

In addition, the coalition can force the opposition to cut down its speeches. Therefore, this time, the opposition, with Zionist Union faction chairwoman Merav Michaeli leading the move, surprised the coalition.

“I don’t have any problem with filibusters; you see we’re still here,” coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said in the plenum, “but where were you on other matters? You showed your real faces today, that all you care about is support from the press and getting a good headline. You don’t represent the public.”

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