Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by Shiran Granot
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to pass new legislation to improve competition and shrink economic concentration before the end of the Knesset summer session in July.

The Prime Minister's Office in recent days asked Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism ), chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, to speed up the committee's handling of the legislation after it passes first reading in the Knesset plenum, expected in mid-June.

Prof. Eugene Kandel, chairman of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister's Office, recently discussed advancing the legislation with Gafni. Coalition Knesset members were also asked to help push the bill forward.

The Treasury is working with the prime minister to pass the law, said Finance Ministry officials. Lobbyists for large conglomerates are expected to try to slow the legislation's advance so the Knesset would be unable to pass it on and second and final readings by the end of July.

However, Gafni, according to Knesset sources, will not allow lobbyists to cause delays. The various business interests have already been heard by the committee that examined economic concentration and made the recommendations included in the proposed law.

"We will not let them lead a tactical [campaign] to try to wear down the process with delays," said one Knesset member who was echoed by others.

Gafni said his committee will discuss most of the sections of the law and advance it quickly, the goal being to pass it by the end of July. He said he was pleased that Knesset elections were not being moved up to September, partly because it makes quick passage of the law possible.

"I do not want to wait for political surprises and that is why I am determined to hold a series of marathon committee sessions to complete the legislation before the summer recess," said Gafni. But he added that a number of the recommendations included in the law should be made stricter, including banning those people with significant economic holdings from also owning media properties.