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Knesset to face several contentious issues in summer session
Analysis: Never a dull moment in the Israeli legislature as issues like the IPBC, the Shabbat wars, the 'Nationality Law,' Kahlon's tax reform and even Trump's planned peace effort on the agenda.

The Knesset's summer session began on Monday with the bitter taste of recent political disputes still prevalent and a list of possibly explosive issues to contend with.

 

 

A law that was passed in the Knesset's previous term, which sought to carry out a comprehensive reform of the Israel Broadcast Authority (IBA) in favor of a more modern and attractive public broadcasting, has become a political landmine, causing unrest in the plenum for months.

 

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came head-to-head over the establishment of the new Israel Public Broadcasting Authority (IPBC), leading to the IPBC's launch being pushed twice. In addition, as part of a compromise agreement between the two, a separate news division will be created for the IPBC and the broadcaster's heads will be replaced. During this political feud, Netanyahu and Kahlon developed ill feelings towards one another, creating wounds that may never heal completely.

 

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

 

Another contentious issue is the 'Nationality Law,' which was approved on Sunday at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. This legislation enshrines as a Basic Law Israel's status as a Jewish and democratic state, defines Hebrew as the official language while demoting Arabic to a language with a "special status," and enshrines in law Jerusalem's status as Israel's capital.

 

The bill may have been approved under the condition it would return to the committee after passing a preliminary reading, but Minister Yariv Levin's declaration that the legislation process will be completed soon is expected to raise ire in the Knesset.

 

The battle over Shabbat is also on the agenda, with tensions mounting among the ultra-Orthodox parties. The High Court's decision, which empowers the Tel Aviv Municipality to determine whether to allow supermarkets in the city to open on the Jewish day of rest, bothers the Haredi parties, who have already made it clear that they would not allow a violation of the status quo. The Haredi parties are worried Tel Aviv will serve as a precedent that would motivate other municipalities to follow suit. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) has demanded additional authorities, but has yet to get them.

 

And that's not the end of it. Finance Minister Kahlon's tax reform for families, which is supposed to help the public by lowering daycare prices and giving parents additional tax credits, is waiting in the pipeline and might be used as a bargaining chip to pressure Kahlon into toeing the Likud's line.

 

On top of all that, there's still the impending visit of US President Donald Trump, who could bring diplomatic issues back onto the agenda and reawaken old disputes.

 

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