Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on a clause in Likud’s coalition agreements with the various factions that would give the communications minister the power to decide which media laws and reforms the coalition will promote and which ones it will bury.
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Such a cause would give Netanyahu full authority to decide on the issue of whether to split up Channel 2 and give the license to Channel 10. It would also prevent the opposition from proposing its own legislation on these issues. That would allow Netanyahu to avoid the embarrassment he experienced in the last Knesset when most of the coalition factions voted for a law requiring the daily Yisrael Hayom, which is identified with Netanyahu, to charge rather than give away free copies.
A source familiar with the clause told Haaretz: “Netanyahu wants to terrorize the media and keep it on a short leash. This could cause serious damage to Israeli democracy.” According to the source, “the clause is rather ambiguous, which means the coalition partners might end up signing it.”
A senior Likud figure told Haaretz that Likud was planning on “devoting a major part of the agreement on media issues. There is no doubt that in the next term we will promote significant reforms in the media market. Not everyone will like this,” he said.
Journalist Raviv Drucker posted the main elements of the planned clause on his Twitter account: “The government will institute comprehensive reforms in the realm of media. The coalition’s factions and their members will not support bills in this realm except on approval of the communications minister. The coalition’s members will oppose any initiative that the communications minister opposes.”
Senior figures in the various parties denied the existence of such a clause and said it had not come up in the framework of talks with Likud. However, according to a source involved in the talks, “It did indeed come up.”