Likud Official: Only Way Out of Coalition Crisis Is if Netanyahu or Kahlon Back Down

No compromise is possible when it comes to the public broadcaster, party official says.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 20, 2017.
Andy Wong, AP

The crisis between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over the new public broadcaster is unlikely to end in a compromise, a senior Likud figure said Tuesday, suggesting that one of the sides will have to retreat. 

Negotiations between representatives of Netanyahu, who is in China, and Kahlon are underway but have failed to reach a deal, according to the source.

According to the figure, the talks are facing two major obstacles: The first issue is directives made by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit that rule out potential deals that could turn the new broadcasting corporation into a political tool. The second issue is the fact that any complex compromise would have to be approved by the Knesset, which ends its winter session on Wednesday and will be on break until May. The new broadcaster is slated to be launched on April 30. 

The opposition to new legislation is led by Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht. Mendelblit has adopted his position and has declared that he will not support any clauses that stipulate political control over broadcasting. 

The new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation is meant to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority, whose 1,000 employees are slated to be fired.

According to the Likud source, Netanyahu isn't willing to allow the new broadcaster to begin operations, while Kahlon is unwilling to postpone the launch date due to the high costs of operating both the new corporation and its predecessor at the same time. By the time Netanyahu returns from China on Thursday, one of them will have to retreat. 

Associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might support the establishment of a public broadcasting corporation that does not broadcast on television, according political sources who discussed the idea with Netanyahu’s aides accompanying him on his visit to China.

Under the idea, the new public broadcaster known as Kan would begin broadcasting as planned on April 30, but only online and on the radio. The Israel Broadcasting Authority that is currently slated to be closed would continue broadcasting television programs on Channel 11.