Political crisis deepens, Netanyahu and Kahlon fail to reach agreement

The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister convened until late on Tuesday night to discuss the IBA saga that has been threatening to send Israel to early elections, but failed to reach an agreement.

March 29, 2017 08:00
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and their closest advisers met late Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Office in another effort to resolve the political crisis over public broadcasting and avoid a general election, but failed to reach an agreement.

In an indication of the seriousness of the meeting, it was attended by Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman, Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad, and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who is Netanyahu’s closest political adviser.

The leaders met again on Wednesday hours after Israel radio quoted a source in the coalition saying the countdown to elections may have begun.

A source close to Kahlon said he is worried that if he gives into Netanyahu the Prime Minister will trick him and close the corporation.
As Netanyahu faces police questioning, rivals look "post-Bibi" (credit: REUTERS)

A deal is expected to include a one-month postponement of the April 30 deadline for the new Public Broadcasting Corporation to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Meanwhile, the two bodies would merge, with a special budget allocated for absorbing workers from the IBA. Legal advisers are working on the details of the merger.

In an effort to send a message to Netanyahu that he is not afraid of elections, Kahlon’s Kulanu Party began an advertising campaign Tuesday night highlighting Kahlon’s accomplishments in the Finance Ministry.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tuesday at an event of the Or Yarok traffic safety organization that the crisis over the Public Broadcasting Corporation is “solvable.”

“It is not reasonable to drag the country to elections due to a dispute whose gaps are not that wide,” she said.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Shas leader Arye Deri invited each other on Twitter to cooperate politically Tuesday night. Deri said Herzog should join the government, while the latter tweeted that Deri should join an alternative coalition that he is trying to form.

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, meanwhile, blasted Netanyahu for his handling of the public broadcasting issue.

“Anyone with eyes in his head would call it delusional to go to elections on public broadcasting because of Netanyahu’s obsession with the press,” said Ya’alon.

“What are we, Turkey? Who is he [Turkish president Recep Tayyip] Erdogan? He is that worried about being criticized?” The Movement for Quality Government petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday, asking it to stop Netanyahu from dealing with communications issues due to conflicts of interest. In its petition, the watchdog group said that although Netanyahu quit his post as communications minister, he continues to deal with related issues on a daily basis.

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