Rami Sadan won’t take up his job as chairman of Channel 10 television’s news company until the High Court of Justice has ruled on a petition against the appointment, the governing coalition has agreed.
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In exchange, the Shas party has suspended its battle against the appointment, which has included refusing to support the coalition in some Knesset votes.
The agreement, reached Wednesday by coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) and MK Yigal Guetta (Shas), also states that after the court rules, Likud and Shas will reach an agreed solution to their dispute over the appointment.
Sadan is a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though Netanyahu has no official influence over the privately-owned television station, senior Channel 10 journalists suspect that he somehow engineered the appointment.
Shas said in a statement that it was glad Likud had “joined the battle against racism and understood that statements against a sizable community can’t be allowed to pass quietly in Israel.”
As Haaretz reported last week, Sadan made harsh statements against Shas and its leader, Interior Minister Arye Dery, during the board meeting at which he presented his candidacy.
“Let’s admit the truth, I, like you in the elite, detest Shas and that thief Arye Dery,” he reportedly said. “But we, as an elite, need to reach beyond the channel’s usual circles, to appeal to the Shas audience, to Masouda from Sderot.”
“Masouda from Sderot” is a term in the Israeli political lexicon that refers to a poorly educated Mizrahi, or Jew of Middle Eastern or North African origin. Mizrahim are Shas’ main constituency. The epithet “thief” apparently refers to Dery’s conviction for graft during his first stint in politics in the early 1990s.
In a subsequent investigation by the Second Television and Radio Authority, most board members denied having heard Sadan say any such thing. But the CEOs of both the station and its news company – Yossi Warshavsky and Golan Yochpaz, respectively – said Haaretz had quoted Sadan accurately.
The High Court petition was filed by four deputy mayors from Shas. The court rejected the petitioners’ request that it freeze Sadan’s appointment until it rules, but Wednesday’s agreement achieves the same end.
Senior media figures predicted that the agreement would spur Sadan to resign, but Sadan told Haaretz he has no intention of quitting.
“There’s no suspension, the appointment is alive and well,” he said. “Out of due respect for the High Court, we’ll wait for its ruling next week.”
The court is widely expected to refuse to cancel the appointment.
For now Sadan remains on the board of Channel 10 news, but not as acting chairman. At the next board meeting, due to take place next week, a temporary chairman will appointed to run it.