FILE PHOTO: Employees work in the offices of Kan, the new Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in Tel Aviv, Israel November 3, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hundreds of Israel Broadcasting Corporation employees protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday against a deal reached two days earlier between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to open the IBC, but have the news department run by staff of the old Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The Netanyahu-Kahlon deal helped stave off early elections, pending legislation that will pass in the Knesset in a special recess hearing to be held on Wednesday.
IBC employees and opposition MKs slammed the deal, accusing the premier of seeking greater control over the media by stripping the IBC news department.
Protesters in front of a government building in Tel Aviv carried signs that read, “This is not compromise, it is treachery,” and “Democracy equals free journalism.”
IBC chairman Gil Omer blasted both Netanyahu and the deal on Channel 2 on Saturday, saying, “Democracy has been trampled,” and accused the prime minister of “firing hundreds of workers here because the prime minister does like three or four of them.”
Meanwhile, opposition chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said on Saturday that the final word on the IBC has not been spoken. “We are still in the process and I would not eulogize the IBC yet,” he said. “The struggle is still happening and there are more to come.”
At a press conference on Friday, both Kahlon and the Likud claimed victory in a compromise reached in six meetings of Netanyahu, Kahlon and their staff, which was given a legal stamp of approval by Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit.
Kahlon said on Friday that he had succeeded in preserving freedom of the media and protecting the public purse.
“I have stood as a rock for democracy and taxpayer money,” said Kahlon, who is also chairman of the Kulanu party. “There will be no political influence over any media outlet, and in the Israel Broadcasting Corporation that is being formed, the politicians have been distanced. Its monitoring council will be untouchable by politicians.”
A bill proposed by the Likud that would have increased supervision of the media will not be advanced, as part of the deal with Kahlon, who said the legislation justifiably scared journalists.
“It is a deal that both sides could live with,” said coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud). “It will prevent elections and guarantee the continuation of a good coalition for our country. This deal is good for the Likud, good for the media and mainly good for the people of Israel.Gil Hoffman and Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.