Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz authorized the distribution of NIS 35 million of so-called bid funds that have been frozen for three years to be given as investment in original Israeli entertainment and cultural productions, it was announced on Sunday.In a conversation with Culture Minister Chili Tropper and Israeli artists, Gantz said: “This is not the time to procrastinate – in this difficult time, all possible assistance must be provided in order to provide oxygen to Israeli art.” Among the artists who took part in the Zoom meeting where the decision was made were actresses Noa Koler (Rehearsals) and Nelly Tagar (Zero Motivation), actor Zohar Strauss (Shtisel), Fauda producer Liat Benasuly and producer Assaf Amir, who is also the head of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television.This sum of NIS 35m. was paid by the commercial channels to the State Treasury, for the benefit of investing in Israeli productions. In 2015, Channel 10 received its license and paid NIS 2.16m. to be given 10 on the slate of television channels. In 2017, with the breakup of Channel 2 and the publication of the tender for the use of channels 12, 13 and 14, the commercial channels Keshet and Reshet paid an additional NIS 33m. According to the Second Authority Law, the Communications Minister must set criteria for the distribution of funds between the networks Keshet, Reshet, Hot and Yes. The issue has languished for three years, during which time Keshet and Reshet petitioned the Supreme Court to require the Communications Minister to set the criteria immediately. The criteria are subject to the approval of the Finance Minister.Gantz said, “For over three years, NIS 35m. in bid money earmarked for Israeli productions has been stuck for irrelevant reasons. I have decided to put an end to the procrastination on the subject and work for the rapid release of the funds.”Tropper said, “Encouraging Israeli art precisely in this difficult time, when the world of culture is experiencing an ongoing and significant crisis, is more important than ever. We continue to do everything so that the world of culture comes back to life as soon as possible... We are continuing talks with the Health Ministry and I hope we can bring the world of culture back to life soon, carefully and responsibly. The world of culture is important and employs many thousands, and we have a responsibility to bring it back in the shortest possible time.”Shaham, the Israeli actors’ union, welcomed the decision to finally release the funds and thanked Gantz and Tropper after years of negotiations in which the artists’ representatives rarely received a response from the various government ministries concerned.Uri Rashtik, the CEO of Shaham, said, “It is a poetic justice that precisely at this time when the cultural world has suffered one of the most painful blows and has been shut down for a year, NIS 35m. will be channeled to the benefit of industry, creators and actors who need it like breathing air. We will continue to work with the Cable and Satellite Council and the Council of the Second Authority to ensure that the funds are channeled to support and encourage Israeli creation.” The move has been reviewed and approved by the attorney-general.