Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the decision to abruptly take Channel 1 news off the air the night before.
Staff of the nightly news program Mabat made a tearful farewell after forty-nine years on the air. It is part of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which is slated to be replaced by the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation.
There had been no advance notice that the program would sign off so soon, and the suddenness of its closure was widely criticized.
Mr. Netanyahu, who has been embroiled in protracted wrangling over the fate of the IBA and its successor, was quick to join the critics, calling the way it was handled “disrespectful and dishonorable.”
According to a statement from his office, “the prime minister heard about it from the media. He did not support the move and it was not done with his knowledge. He is also not authorized to make such a decision,” the statement read.
On the contrary, it pointed out that Mr. Netanyahu had been on the side of the IBA newscasters.
“The prime minister was the one who fought so that the news company of the channel would continue broadcasting with as many workers as possible absorbed into the news body,” the statement said.