Israel Broadcasting Authority executives yesterday mutinied against planned reforms at the governmental agency, with two senior officials announcing they would follow the lead of outgoing chairman Moshe Gavish and tender their resignations.
IBA Deputy Chairman Dorit Inbar, who had been slated to take over from Gavish, announced she would instead be stepping down because of her doubts over how reforms are being carried out.
"I am not the right person to be doing this and I hereby announce my resignation," Inbar said during a farewell gathering for Gavish that took place yesterday. "What is happening here is a national tragedy. This is an organization without a head. I cannot see any person that could replace Gavish within the required time frame."
Hours earlier Doron Zabari, another senior member of the IBA's management, announced his resignation in a scathing letter sent to Information and Disapora Minister Yuli Edelstein, who is charged with carrying out the reforms.
"In your decision to turn a cold shoulder to Gavish's efforts and to show him the way out, you have sentenced your tenure to be a failure," Zabari wrote. "[Gavish] is a public emissary in the deepest sense of the word."
For years, the IBA has been accused of chronic spending, inefficiency and patronage. It has run up debts in excess of NIS 200 million, and repeated attempts at reform have failed.
Although Inbar and Zabari did not say they were coordinating their announcements, sources at the IBA said they believed the timing was intended to undermine the reforms.
Edelstein, who also attended Gavish's farewell gathering yesterday, said that he was "fed up with having to declare that I support the reform," and that he was "cautiously optimistic" about its chances to succeed. He said he intended to hold meetings with the Finance Ministry and with the director general of the Prime Minister's Office to discuss changes at the IBA.
"If we fail then, it will be our joint failure, but we won't let that happen," Edelstein said.
The IBA currently has 1,800 employees, of whom 850 are expected to laid off as part of the reform program. About 600 of those, aged 55 to 62, will be offered early retirement. The remaining 250 will be fired.
The IBA has at least 11 different workers committees, all of which are demanding continuation of their collective bargaining agreements. However, most of the negotiating will be with member of two unions: the journalists and the technicians. Amid the drama, IBA director-general Moti Sklar yesterday managed to remain calm.
"There's a kind of crisis, but I'm optimistic," he said. "I'm certain that with this management, we'll complete the reforms. There's a fatalistic approach and then there's the approach which says, 'Okay, we were in a crisis, but let's move on.'"
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