Netanyahu, Bennett clash over government and media

PM, Bayit Yehudi leader accuse each other of harming the Right through use of the press.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennet (photo credit: SASSON TIRAM,REUTERS)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennet
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett engaged in mutual recriminations throughout the day Monday in a dispute over the relationship between the government and the media and the impact of the press on the Israeli Right, which they both purport to lead.
The fight ended with Bennett choosing not to respond to an attack by Netanyahu in the Likud faction that accused the education minister of cooperating with media that Netanyahu perceives as being against him.
“I understand there are attempts by politicians to find favor with those in the media who want to keep their monopoly on what the public will see and hear,” Netanyahu said.
“That is exactly why I took the communications portfolio.
Because I know I can resist all the pressure and the attacks of the press.”
On Sunday, government ministers knocked heads at the weekly cabinet meeting as Likud ministers argued for more government control and oversight over the Ta’agid, the Hebrew name for the new broadcasting authority originally slated to begin operations at the end of the year.
Some Likud ministers, such Miri Regev, argued that the government should be able to control the broadcasting authority, while others such as Ofer Akunis said appointments to the new authority need to be approved by the prime minister.
Likud minister Gila Gamliel, in an Army Radio interview Monday, called Regev’s statement “borderline Fascist.”
On Monday, the prime minister also responded to an attack by Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog who, in his faction meeting, compared Netanyahu to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Herzog said “Netanyahu wants a press that is subordinate, humiliated and tied up.”
To that, Netanyahu responded: “Adding competition to the press is essential. Competition is the opposite of control. It is no secret that there are sectors that are not represented in the media. Competition will allow a variety of views to be heard.
We are giving the public the right to choose.”
Bayit Yehudi released a scathing response Monday morning to a statement by the Likud that accused the party’s leaders of cooperating with the Left.
The Likud statement said Bayit Yehudi leaders Bennett and Ayelet Shaked were “The darlings of the Left and [Yediot Aharonot publisher] Noni Mozes, who supports the never- ending attempts by Bennett and Shaked to harm Netanyahu and the rule of Likud.”
Bayit Yehudi responded by accusing Netanyahu of firing inside the “armored personnel carrier” that is the Israeli Right.
“He is firing again at the Right, just like when he voted for the disengagement and destruction of Gush Katif, when he released more terrorists than anyone in the history of the state, when he froze construction in Judea and Samaria, when he surrendered to Hamas, and when he declared a Palestinian state at Bar-Ilan University,” the Bayit Yehudi statement said.
“Most ridiculously, he is firing at the Right when he wants to bring [Zionist Union leaders] Isaac Herzog, Stav Shaffir and Merav Michaeli after saying before the election that he would not. He always kisses up to the Right and religious [parties] before elections and a minute later throws them away and mocks them,” the party added.
The Likud responded that Bennett was panicking and accused the education minister of turning leftward by allowing Israeli children to learn the poems of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
Bayit Yehudi minister Uri Ariel released a statement saying the Likud was “delusional” if it thought Bennett was shifting left.
Besides the media, Netanyahu and Bennett also have clashed recently over an upcoming state comptroller report on Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in 2014 and about the role of the national security council and the security cabinet.