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The political battle over the free paper Israel Hayom is heating up: On Thursday, 19 Knesset members from eight parties introduced a bill to require the owner and editor in chief of newspapers to be Israeli citizens residing in the country. These conditions are the same ones that apply to the owners of television and radio stations.

The proposed law is meant to stop Sheldon Adelson from controlling Israel Hayom.

"A newspaper could become a center of power and even be used as a tool by bodies with unclear motives," wrote the MKs in explaining the bill.

The law is to be submitted for a preliminary reading in the Knesset in 45 days, unless the Knesset House Committee votes to allow it to come to a vote earlier.

Adelson is considered a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon said last week that the law is unlikely to pass.

Adelson is also fighting back against the bill: The newspaper recently hired Boris Krasny's Policy lobbying firm to convince MKs to kill the bill.

On the other side is Maariv's owner Ofer Nimrodi. He has hired his own lobbyist, Keren Barak, to promote the proposed legislation. Nimrodi met recently with a number of MKs and asked them to help in advancing the bill. Barak also works on a number of other projects in cooperation with lobbyists Aliza Goren and Tomer Amir, who also represent Haaretz, Yedioth Aharonoth and Globes.