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Rivlin in Vietnam
Photo: Reuters
Rivlin: Going to early elections over IPBC crisis is crazy
The president deems Netanyahu-Kahlon feud over the fate of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation to be an 'artificial crisis,' saying dismantling the government over it while Israel faces greater problems is 'completely unnecessary.'
President Reuven Rivlin on Monday slammed threats made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go to early elections should the crisis over the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) not be resolved.

 

 

"To say that this is a political crisis over which a government should be dismantled is crazy," Rivlin told Ynet during a state visit to Vietnam.

 

"The State of Israel is facing so many problems—diplomatic, economic and security problems—that going to early elections over something like this is completely unnecessary," the president went on to say in his first public reaction to the issue.

 

Rivlin meets with Vietnam President Trần Đại Quang (Photo: EPA)
Rivlin meets with Vietnam President Trần Đại Quang (Photo: EPA)

 

He asserted the crisis over the IPBC was an "artificial" crisis, adding that governments should only get dismantled over "serious crises."

 

"It appears to me like the media's name is spoken in vain in an effort to mix the issue of the IPBC with going to early elections,"

Rivlin opined. "It appears to me that the people threatening to dismantle the government over this issue are merely trying to send a message without having any serious intention to dissolve the government over this."

 

Rivlin is not alone, all heads of the coalition came out against Netanyahu's threat to go to early elections over this issues. "Israel needs stability, not elections," Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said. "Israel needs to invest in its citizens, not in the polls." His comments were echoed by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman and Shas head Aryeh Deri.

 

There have been widening fissures between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over the fate of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC).

 

Netanyahu has withdrawn his support for the IPBC, which is due to start broadcasting at the end of April, deciding instead to fight to keep the existing IBA on air by combining the two public broadcasting bodies.

 

In a meeting on Saturday with Likud ministers, Netanyahu summarized that he will stand against establishing the IPBC, adding, "If we don't reach an agreement with Kahlon, we will hold elections."

 

The prime minister asserted that restructuring the IPBC would not require further spending and that "the cost of keeping the IBA running is tens of millions of shekels cheaper than erecting the IPBC"—assertions Kahlon and the Finance Ministry have rejected.

 

Netanyahu has also tried to get Kahlon to support legislation he is trying to push through that would give the Israeli government control over public broadcasting, something the finance minister opposes.

 

Kahlon and Netanyahu (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
Kahlon and Netanyahu (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

 

Netanyahu and Kahlon's representatives met late Sunday night in an effort to reach a compromise on the issue, but while the meeting was defined as "good," no agreement or understandings were reached by the end of it.

 

Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) met for two hours to seek solutions for the issues of media supervision and the supervision and monitoring of the IPBC, as well as a solution for the fate of employees at the IBA, which is set to close to make way for the IPBC.

 

One of the possibilities being discussed is removing the heads of the IPBC—CEO Eldad Koblenz and chairman Gil Omer. Kalon is not expected to oppose this move, so long as the IPBC starts airing at the end of April, as has already been agreed on.  

 

Babad was set to meet with Communication Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber on Monday to continue talks on a compromise.

 

Another meeting on the topic on Sunday night was between coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) and Kahlon's spokesman Nadav Sheinberg at a Tel Aviv pub.

 

Earlier in the evening, Kahlon insisted in talks with senior coalition members that "the IPBC will be launched and start airing on April 30."

 

In public comments, Kahlon promised to address the issue of the IBA closure and the fate of its employees. "Others failed to take responsibility, but we will," he said. "The previous government did what it did to them, and then dumped (the problem) on me. Right now there are problems and unfortunately the IBA employees whose fate hasn't been determined properly have fallen between the cracks."



 

Moran Azulay and Yuval Karni contributed to this report. 

 

(Translated and edited by Yaara Shalom)

 

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