Senior Likud Official: Netanyahu Has Drastic Plans for Communications Market

Forcing coalition partners to back anything communications minister proposes is 'only way' to advance reforms, says official.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Benjamin NetanyahuCredit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A senior Likud official who recently spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Netanyahu intends to use all his power to implement drastic plans for the communications market.

An official familiar with coalition negotiations earlier this week acknowledged that the Likud was including a clause in its coalition agreement with other parties obliging their MKs to vote for any initiative of the communications minister.

According to the senior Likud official, the draconian clause forcing coalition members to award an automatic majority to the communication minister's bills, is meant to allow Netanyahu to push through his plans.

"No doubt it is an exceptional move, but it's the only way to advance these reforms," he said. "We're not talking about just the matters of splitting Channel 2, Channel 10's license or halting the Israel Hayom law," he said, referring to the bill that would make it illegal to widely distribute a full-size newspaper free of charge and is widely believed to target specifically the paper of casino magnate and Netnayahu patron Sheldon Adelson.

"The prime minister has significant plans, but he has yet to go into the details," he said.

Political analysts remarked this week that the controversial clause is expected to allow Netanyahu to control several media outlets, as he will have in his hands the future of Army Radio, under certain conditions the identity of the heads of the new broadcast authority, the future of the news company of Channel 2 and Channel 10 and the power to strengthen Israel Hayom.

"Netanyahu doesn't have to commit an act. He just has to threaten the media out lets to make them think twice before publishing anything," said the source, who said he had access to the proposed clause in the past few days.

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