Likud minister Akunis gives up IBA authority to protest PM's lack of support

Science, Technology and Space Minister Ophir Akunis resigned from his post as the minister in charge of the Israel Broadcasting Authority Saturday to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement Friday that he will work toward amending a controversial clause inserted in the Public Broadcasting Law that would prevent IBA journalists from broadcasting their personal opinions.
Akunis expressed outrage that Netanyahu did not support him when he was under fire and did not even inform him before he released the statement opposing the clause.
"The clause was never intended at any stage to forbid expressing opinions on radio programs," Akunis said. "Its only purpose was to sharpen existing ethical standards in news broadcasts. The law was not intended to silence anyone."
Akunis wished Netanyahu well in his role as communications minister and said that after he finished passing the law, he would now focus solely on science and technology.
The controversial clause was proposed by United Torah Judaism MK Israel Eichler during the second reading of the amended bill on Thursday. The Prime Minister’s Office's statement said Netanyahu does not believe journalistic ethics should be governed by law, but rather by moral considerations.
Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Special Knesset committee which formulated the amendments to the bill, said on Friday that the clause was untenable and that he would try to remove it from the books. Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai who opposed the clause then, will motion on Sunday for it to be rescinded, and there is a strong likelihood that this will happen given the flurry of anger and concern that it has aroused.
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