Early elec­tion threat hangs over coali­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

IS­RAELI PRIME Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Moshe Kahlon are ex­pected to meet this weekend to see if they can reach a com­pro­mise on the new pub­lic broad­cast­ing cor­po­ra­tion and avert early elec­tions.

Mr Ne­tanyahu re­treated from a pre­vi­ous com­pro­mise reached last week whereby the cor­po­ra­tion would start broad­cast­ing as planned on April 30 and, later this year, a new me­dia reg­u­la­tion bill would be passed giv­ing the govern­ment closer su­per­vi­sion over pub­lic me­dia out­lets.

Min­is­ters close to the prime min­is­ter said he was will­ing to dis­band the coali­tion and call for elec­tions two years early if Mr Kahlon con­tin­ued to in­sist on the cor­po­ra­tion’s ex­is­tence.

Dur­ing the four days Mr Ne­tanyahu spent on an of­fi­cial visit to China this week, new com­pro­mise pro­pos­als shut­tled be­tween Jerusalem and Bei­jing. One was that the cor­po­ra­tion would start broad­cast­ing as planned but the CEO and chair­man would both re­sign and be re­placed by fig­ures more ac­cept­able to the prime min­is­ter. An­other idea was for the cor­po­ra­tion to start with only ra­dio and on­line pro­grammes on April 30 while the Is­rael Broad­cast­ing Author­ity, which was due to be dis­solved, would con­tinue its tele­vi­sion broad­casts.

Mr Ne­tanyahu has kept silent on the is­sue but sources close to him have tried in re­cent days to tamp down the talk of early elec­tions, mainly due to the fact that none of the other par­ties in the coali­tion and a ma­jor­ity of Likud min­is­ters and MKs are not in favour of the idea. How­ever, he has not sig­nalled he is will­ing to ac­cept any of the com­pro­mise pro­pos­als. The sit­u­a­tion was ex­ac­er­bated on Mon­day when the cor­po­ra­tion an­nounced that the an­chor of its main evening news pro­gramme would be Geula Even, a vet­eran broad­caster and highly re­spected pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ist who is also the wife for­mer min­is­ter Gideon Saar, Mr Ne­tanyahu’s most bit­ter ri­val within Likud.

A se­nior Likud min­is­ter said: “There still is a 50-50 chance of an early elec­tion. Ne­tanyahu doesn’t seem to mind go­ing to the people, he’s cer­tain he will win. No-one else in the party wants elec­tions but even if there’s a com­pro­mise on the ta­ble, both sides have to re­ally want it and with all the ten­sion, there’s al­ready the be­gin­ning of a dy­namic which could lead us to an early elec­tion. The next few days will be crit­i­cal.”

Ne­tanyahu un­will­ing to ac­cept com­pro­mise on new broad­caster

PHOTO: FLASH 90

TV work­ers protest­ing in Tel Aviv on Mon­day against the clo­sure of the Is­raeli Broad­cast­ing Author­ity

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