Hours Before Airtime, Deal to Split Israel's New Public News Unit Frozen by Court

Netanayhu fought to kill the new broadcaster, but, failing that, put together deal to split its news division, but top court says not so fast

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at government meeting in Jerusalem. May 4, 2017
Emil Salman

Kan, the new public broadcasting corporation, will be going on the air Monday airing both news and general programming after the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction Sunday against legislation that requires it to split off its news division.

The ruling is the latest twist in the convoluted history of the new public broadcasting corporation, which is due to launch Monday after its predecessor organization, the Israel Broadcast Authority, was shut down last week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had fought hard to keep Kan off the air but, failing that, last week engineered an amendment to the law creating the corporation, forcing it to spin off its news and public affairs division into a separate corporation. Netanyahu reportedly fears Kan’s news coverage would be hostile to him and his policies.

But Kan itself and MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) filed a petition to block the split. The court dismissed the state’s objections to a temporary injunction, which will remain in effect until it schedules another hearing, which could be as early as Monday afternoon. Kan is set to go live at 5 p.m.

Or not. In an echo of the tumultuous union-management relations that characterized the old IBA, the Histadrut labor federation said Sunday it was calling meetings with technicians to discuss severance and pension benefits on Sunday and Monday, a move that may disrupt the first day of broadcasts.