Published On: Tue, Nov 1st, 2016

PM promises to ‘rehabilitate’ public broadcast at stormy opening session

After President Reuven Rivlin refers to the Israel Public Broadcast Corporation and calls for impartial coverage, Netanyahu steps up to the podium, which causes several MKs to leave in protest.

The opening on the Knesset Winter Session L to R in frint Netanyahu,   Rivlin and Edelstein (Photo Gil Yohanan)

 

The Knesset opened its winter session on Monday amid dissension over the future of the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), which the Coalition is expected to cancel, and that of the illegal outpost Amona. During his speech, Netanyahu promised to ‘Rehabilitate’ the IPBC.

The session opened to a raucous start, with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Coalition Chairperson David Bitan speaking before the Knesset. The main bone of contention was the over the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

The Israeli parliamentarians are expected to debate and vote on these contentious issues, as well as pass the bi-annual state budget.

But it is not just members of the opposition who are outraged by a series of controversial bill proposals. Recent days saw a charged atmosphere among coalition partners, as well.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed a government vote on a proposal to cancel the broadcasting reform and close down the IPBC, which is meant to replace the existing Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). The move is expected to get the government’s support—despite objections from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, among others—following which it will be brought to a vote at the Knesset.

 

The Knesset Winter Session 2016/2017(Photo Gil Yohanan)

Rivlin referred to the possible cancellation of the IPBC in his own speech, prior to Netanyahu’s. “Those who are for public broadcasting cannot have it become a ‘comissar mouthpiece, ‘ and those who oppose it need to come out and say it clearly.” He added that “If you want public broadcasting, it must be impartial to all parties.”

Another explosive issue is the future of the illegal outpost Amona, which the High Court of Justice (HCJ) ordered to evacuate and demolish two years ago after determining its houses were built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The demolition is set for December, but legislators on the right-wing are pushing a so-called “regulations bill” that would legalize Amona and other illegal outposts in the West Bank.

A third legislation proposal that raised Kahlon’s ire is one by MK David Bitan (Likud), which seeks to automatically appoint MKs and ministers who served in these roles for three years—even if not consecutively—as directors in government companies, without them having to demonstrate any other skills.

The government vote on the “Regulation Bill” was supposed to take place on Sunday, but was postponed to next week after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit warned he would otherwise have a hard time asking the High Court to postpone the evacuation.

If all of this is not enough, the Knesset is also supposed to pass the new bi-annual state budget, as well as vote on other coalition bills, such as Bitan’s proposal to prevent Israelis from speaking against Israel at international forums.

And just like previous Knesset sessions, this one will likely also see repeated attempts to expand the coalition by bringing in the Zionist Union Party.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also spoke before the Knesset, hinting at a recent court ruling in a civil case that implicated Likud MK Oren Hazan with using hard drugs, saying “We have a great responsibility in shaping society. Almost any behavior and every statement made by an MK incurs reactions, and just as it could at times create a positive discourse, it can also inflame passions.

In addition, Interior Minister and Development of the Negev and Galilee Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) resigned from the Knesset but stated he will remain a minister, so as to allow another Shas member to become and MK.

By Ynet News

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