Army Radio to Move to Israel’s Defense Ministry From the Military

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman gets more control over a station he has been critical of, though the military has argued for the move for financial reasons.

A soldier broadcasts on Army Radio, 2015.
David Bachar

Army Radio will be transferred to the Defense Ministry from the military, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday, gaining a greater say over a radio station he has been critical of.

The move also follows the advice of the Israel Defense Forces itself Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and a previous IDF manpower chief, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky, have expressed support for closing the station or transferring it to the Defense Ministry.

In 2014, while crafting the IDF’s multiyear plan, Eisenkot said there was no justification for keeping Army Radio. He said that as the military had to close squadrons and tank brigades and let go thousands of people from the career army, he was against the outlay for the station.

Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, the current manpower chief, has told Channel 10: “If the army were being founded today, there would be no Army Radio. The army doesn’t need a media outlet.”

In July, Lieberman summoned Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel after he included Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in a series on formative Israeli texts.

The ministry says Tuesday's decision was also based on the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who said an oversight mechanism was needed to ensure the station’s independence.

The Defense Ministry plan calls for the transfer to happen by the beginning of May. Cutbacks have already been made at Army Radio.

The ministry’s director general, Udi Adam, made the recommendation to Lieberman following months of study. Soldiers will continue to serve at the station initially at least. A special team at the ministry will be assigned to work on the process.

On Tuesday, the ministry did not mention whether soldiers would continue to enlist to serve at the station, which gave Army Radio an advantage over other radio stations. Nor is it clear how the station’s commander will be chosen.