Kara: More Communications Competition Needed

YERUSHALAYIM -
Minister Ayoub Kara. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Just appointed to the job, Israel’s new communications minister has wasted no time in declaring his plans for the post. At a press conference, Ayoub Kara said that he intended to conduct a major study of the Israeli communications market, with an eye towards reforming pricing and services. “In light of the changes in the telephony market, including demand and services, and taking into consideration that things have changed dramatically in the recent period, the Ministry’s director general will examine the relevance of telephony services as part of his evaluation of the wholesale market,” Kara said. That evaluation, he said, could lead to the admission of new competitors in the cellphone, landline and broadcast industries.

Kara has been criticized widely in professional circles for making the declaration “before he even understands the market,” Globes quoted. “It is clear that he was instructed to make the statement by someone,” the report quoted critics as saying. That “someone” is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with Kara accused of being a “mouthpiece” for the prime minister. Kara’s position on a number of issues — including opening the broadcast market to competition, and encouraging private delivery services to increase their business — are identical to positions Netanyahu has advocated in the past.

Kara was named communications minister last week, with the Cabinet swiftly approving the choice. Kara succeeds Tzachi Hanegbi, who was named temporary minister in March for a three-month period. Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered the job to several current ministers, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who would have had both jobs. Levin and the others turned the position down.

Until March, Prime Minister Netanyahu had been communications minister, a portfolio he was holding along with the Foreign Ministry, with the aim of bringing Zionist Camp into the government; those two portfolios were reserved for them. Good government groups filed a petition with the High Court, demanding that a full-time communications minister be appointed, which the prime minister did.