Israeli Public Security Minister Insists Netanyahu Knew About Public Broadcaster's Establishment

The prime minister recently said that the setting up of the public broadcasting corporation 'escaped' him during the Gaza war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister Gilad Erdan, 2014.
Alex Kolomoisky

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that he regrets the establishment of the public broadcasting corporation and that it "escaped" his attention during the 2014 Gaza war. According to Erdan, the prime minister was updated on all the details and knew of the corporation's setting up.

Erdan, who advanced the establishment of the public broadcasting corporation as communications minister in the previous government, told Army Radio on Wednesday that "I wasn’t present at the closed meeting I can only say that the prime minister was updated, on all the details, and was also present at the government meeting at which the establishment of the corporation was announced."

On Monday, the prime minister met with employees of Channel 1 television and Israel Radio, both of which are part of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and told them that he "regrets the establishment of the corporation," adding that "this law escaped me during Operation Protective Edge."

Erdan, together with then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid, advanced in 2014 the law to close the existing Israel Broadcasting Authority and instead establish the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation. Netanyahu himself supported and promoted the law, and even used the move to cancel the annual television licensing fee in his 2015 election campaign.

But Netanyahu has since changed his position and has recently worked to delay the corporation's opening date. In recent weeks Netanyahu reached an agreement with Histadrut labor federation chief Avi Nissenkorn to delay the establishment of the new corporation by 15 months. Following a public outcry and political opposition, Netanyahu compromised and its start date was postponed by seven months, to January.