Knesset Legal Adviser Nixes Israeli Politician's Wish to 'Dance With Stars'

Legal adviser Eyal Yinon.Members of Israel's parliament can appear on interview programs to express opinion, but not in shows used to promote commercial interests, rules legal adviser Eyal Yinon.

Kadima MK Nino Abesadze may not be a contestant on the "Dancing With the Stars" reality TV show, because it could cloud her judgment in any future decisions the Knesset may make on media issues, Israel's parliamentary legal adviser Eyal Yinon ruled on Sunday.

Moreover, Yinon said, it's questionable whether appearing in a dance contest is in keeping with an MK's obligation to uphold the honor of the Knesset.

Abesadze Yachimovich - Appelbaum - 19.3.12
Tomer Appelbaum

"Dancing With the Stars" is broadcast by Channel 2 franchisee Reshet.

Yinon, in his ruling, distinguished between interview programs, on which MKs may be asked to appear once in a while to express their opinion, and regular participation in a program that harnesses the MK to promote the commercial interests of the broadcaster.

"An MK's participation in this type of television show is not possible because it undermines ... the obligation to avoid conflicts of interest between work as an MK and other activities," Yinon wrote. "In general, an MK is not permitted during his tenure to contract with commercial entities to advance their agenda or his own. This is all the more so when at issue is contracting with business entities whose interests are debated and overseen by the Knesset."

Abesadze had asked Yinon if she could be on the program if she agreed to forgo all monetary compensation and absent herself from debates and votes on media issues.

Yinon vehemently objected.

"It seems to me that because of the complex relationship between MKs and the media and the strength of their mutual dependence, one must carefully preserve clear boundary lines between the accepted coverage and participation of MKs in various frameworks and their becoming regular participants on programs that operate with agreements and obligations to the media outlets and specific franchises identified with them."

Yinon's ruling may well affect the participation of MKs in various types of broadcasts in the future. However, his ruling has no influence on whether political figures who are not MKs can participate in these types of programs. It has been reported, for example, that Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani is expected to participate in "Dancing With the Stars."

Abesadze said on Sunday that despite Yinon's ruling, she is still looking into participating in the program.

"I respect the opinion of the Knesset legal adviser, but I must say that I see my position as a public figure totally differently," she said.

"I believe that participating in a positive program that attracts a wide range of populations in Israel brings Knesset members and the Knesset itself closer to the people. A lot of public figures whom I've consulted agree with me on this. My efforts to get on the program have not yet ended."