Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has brushed aside months of criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s involvement in deciding the future of public broadcasting in Israel, as long as there is no direct conflict of interest.
“Since he is Prime Minister, Netanyahu can involve himself in matters pertaining to any government office,” Justice Ministry official Danny Horin said in a written statement on behalf of Mandelblit.
“In communications, there are specific situations in which the Prime Minister cannot involve himself in. However, these situations are not the norm, and in general, the Prime Minister can take part in most things without any concern for a conflict of interest.
Horin did qualify the approval with a guideline for avoiding potential conflicts of interests:
“Since this is such a sensitive issue, Netanyahu should refrain from dealing with someone with whom he is personally friendly, and should request the Attorney General’s approval for Communications Ministry problems which touch on these issues.
“However, under the current Communications Law, there do not seem to currently be any concerns about a conflict of interest.”
Opposition politicians have insisted that Netanyahu recuse himself from controversial deliberations over the creation of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), over which he has fought with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon until they reached a compromise in recent days.
Netanyahu and Kahlon agreed to split the IPBC into two separate corporations, with the IPBC ceding its news division to the Israel Broadcasting Authority.