No Elections Needed as PM Netanyahu, Kahlon Resolve Broadcasting Fracas

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Elections are apparently off the table as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have apparently resolved their differences over the fate of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), Channel Two reported Thursday. According to the report, the two heads of the IBC – Gil Omer and Eldad Kovlantz – will remain in ther positions, but most of their responsibilities will be reassigned. Meanwhile, a separate organization that will be responsible for news broadcasts will be set up, and it will draw its staff from the IBA workers who are set to lose their jobs on April 30th, when the Authority officially closes down.

In this, government sources told Channel Two, both Netanyahu and Kahlon will be able to declare victory. Kahlon had insisted that the IBA be closed down and broadcasting privatized via the IBC. Netanyahu who had originally been in favor of shuttering the IBA, has since changed his mind. Among the reasons, he said, was that he had promised to ensure that as many IBA workers as possible could retain their jobs. Eventually Netanyahu accused the IBC of becoming too politicized and demanded that it be shut down. With the news now out of the hands of the IBC, and a separate organization to handle it consisting of IBA employees, Netanyahu will have achieved his goals – while Kahlon can point to the closure of the Authority as his political win.

In order to accommodate the new arrangement, the IBC will apparently only be able to begin its work in mid-May. As most of the IBA workers have already received their dismissal notice, it is not clear what the fate of public broadcasting will be for the weeks of the gap between the end of the IBA and the beginning of the IBC eras.

Commenting on the development, coalition chairman MK David Bitan expressed satisfaction, saying that “this is a fair compromise that satisfies both sides and that the Prime Minister and Finance Minister can live with. As a result we will be able to avoid elections and ensure that the coalition remains intact to continue benefitting the country. It’s good for the Likud, good for Kulanu, good for the media and good for Israel.”

In recent days, there had been numerous reports that Netanyahu was seeking to use the coalition crisis as a way to break up the government and call new elections.  Sources in the Likud said that Netanyahu sees Kahlon, with whom he has had a number of disagreements, as a burden, and undeserving of a position as prestigious as Finance Minister for such a small party – which, according to recent polls, is likely to shrink by as much as half if new elections were held now.