The Likud party has been attacking its coalition partner Habayit Hayehudi party over the memorable debate in Sunday’s cabinet meeting of the establishment of a new Israeli Broadcasting Corporation. The official announcement from Likud called Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked the “favorites of the left and of [Yediot Aharonot owner] Noni Moses” who support the indefatigable efforts to harm the prime minister and the Likud rule. It was in response for Bennett’s and Shaked’s decision to abstain during the vote to postpone the date when the new corporation starts broadcasting.
One of the most celebrated quotes from Sunday’s debate, all of which reached unusually shrill tones, was from Likud Minister Miri Regev who reportedly cried out: “What’s the point in having a corporation if we don’t control it? The minister should be in control, or what, we’ll give money and then they’ll broadcast whatever they want?”
As the minister in charge of culture (and sport), Regev exhibited a particularly narrow understanding of freedom of the press and possibly of the entire concept of what a public corporation is. One of the fundamental principles of such corporations, outside Zimbabwe and, recently, Moscow, is that the ministers are strictly in charge of budgeting and monitoring public satisfaction of the corporation, but they are absolutely prohibited from dictating and controlling anything.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan couldn’t help himself and made fun of the vociferous yet thin-skinned Regev. He told her, “Yes, live with it. There’s no law saying the public broadcasting authority will do what Miri Regev tells it to do.” The two Likud ministers continued to yell at each other (they both ranked in the top slots in the last Likud primaries), until Prime Minister Netanyahu had to shut them up.
Ayelet Shaked on Monday shot back at the Likud’s attack press release, saying that Likud should stop whining, and, anyway, they have their own daily newspaper (tycoon Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Bibi Yisrael Hayom).
Shaked was the second female politician in Israel yesterday who told a fellow lawmaker to stop whining. The other was Shelly Yachimovich, who said she’d had it up to here with her party chairman, Isaac Herzog’s whining about an insult she shot at him last May. She called him Bibi’s lap dog. He threatened to expel her.
But the media’s focus on Sunday centered on that cabinet meeting where Regev let the world know what’s her take on democratic institutions. And just to show you that you don’t have to know democracy to thrive in one, Miri Regev’s culture ministry on Sunday received control over the entire government advertising budget, which comes to about $80 million. That’s everything the Netanyahu government spends on ads, foreign and domestic, despite the fact that the bulk of those ads have nothing to do with the culture ministry.
Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel (Likud) told Army Radio on Monday that Regev’s statements were borderline fascistic and that she had warned Netanyahu none of those statements should be allowed to stick to the Likud party.
Incidentally, the reason the Netanyahu government has been attempting to establish a new broadcasting authority was because the current authority is considered inefficient and infested with leftists. But having been under the coalition gun for several years now, the IBA has gone a long way to become more efficient and to sprinkle all its high-ratings hours with rightwingers. So the Kol Israel one hears today is more balanced politically than what it was only a year ago.
Which is the reason Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) announced Sunday that he was going to advance a new bill to dismantle the new public broadcasting corporation in favor of the one Israel has had since the British mandate (1948).
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon summarized that unhappy cabinet debate in an interview with Army Radio, where he said, “This entire government has to go on vacation. They must urgently go on summer holiday, before the entire government would end up in hospital.”