Key panel votes against Yisrael Hayom legislation

Israeli commuters and one American millionaire join together in a collective sigh of relief.

Sheldon Adelson. (photo credit: Bloomberg)
Sheldon Adelson.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Israeli commuters and one American millionaire joined together in a collective sigh of relief Sunday when the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted against a bill that targeted US businessman Sheldon Adelson’s Yisrael Hayom free newspaper. Despite its defeat in the key committee, the bill is expected to be brought for a vote on the Knesset floor this Wednesday, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to enforce rules of coalition discipline to ensure its defeat.
Yisrael Hayom is the most widely distributed free newspaper in Israel and is believed to be either the first or second most widely read newspaper in the country. The newspaper, owned by Netanyahu confidante Adelson, is considered to be a strong fountain of support for the prime minister.
It is because of this popular opinion that the paper has become thetarget of not one but three different bills that seek to knock it outof circulation, restoring traditional one-two papers YediotAharonot and Ma’ariv to their previousstatus. The bill voted upon Sunday was sponsored by MKs Marina Solodkin(Kadima), Miri Regev (Likud) and David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) andwould have curbed the paper’s distribution by outlawing the sale of aservice or product at a price below 50 percent of the price of itsmanufacture or distribution.
Israel Beiteinu ministers Sofa Landver and Yitzhak Aharonovichsupported the bill in the vote, but if Netanyahu does hold MKs tocoalition discipline during the house vote, they will have to changetheir tune Wednesday, as will Regev and Rotem, both coalition members.Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Yaakov Neemanabstained from voting, with Herzog explaining that he had a conflict ofinterest, as his law firm had represented Adelson in the past.
An earlier bill targeting the newspaper sought to prohibit foreignownership of any Hebrew-language newspaper in Israel. That bill hassince been scrapped.