The fate of a divisive radio station being built in the West Bank will be decided in Israel's High Court of Justice on Thursday.
Work on the station was suspended in early 2008 following an injunction filed by the left-wing Gush Shalom organization in October of 2007, shortly after the tender was announced.
"We are talking about a political station disguised as a regional one," claim Gush Shalom members, who say they are not against the establishment of the station per say but oppose its creation by former employees of 'Arutz Sheva' (channel seven).
If the creation of the station is approved, this will be the first time that a station like this would operate legally from within the West Bank. Previously, 'Arutz Sheva' operated illegally from the West Bank.
In the petition, attorneys Gabi Laski and Smadar Ben-Natan, speaking on behalf of Gush Shalom, said that there is no legal precedent which allows the creation of this station.
According to Laski and Ben-Natan, "There has been an incredible role reversal. In order to establish the station Central Command Chief Major-General Yair Naveh, who is meant to act as the executive authority in the West Bank, issued a special permit, giving special powers to the Communication Minister to oversee the station. The government is meant to issue those kind of edicts to the army, not the other way around" the petition said.
Gush Shalom is asking the court to revoke the permit. If cancelled, all of the preceding edicts, such as that granting a broadcasting license to the station, would become null and void.
The directors of the station, which is owned by Zvi Shalom, the brother of MK Silvan Shalom, are Arutz Sheva veterans Yehoshua Moore-Yosef and Kobi Sela. And in charge of the religious-spiritual affairs is Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief Rabbi of Safed.
According to Gush Shalom's Adam Keller: "Arutz Sheva, and namely Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, excel at inciting and instigating violence by the settlers towards Palestinians and individuals who were known left wingers. Rabbi Eliyahu called for the destruction of Beit Hanoun and for settlers to return to the Gaza Strip with weapons and ammunition so that the IDF would follow them".
"If these are the people that would run the station, it would be politically biased," says Gush Shalom.
"Radio stations in Israel are committed to being neutral on certain subjects, and are committed to a balance between the different opinions" says Keller, "it would be impossible to monitor a settler station that isn't a regional station on one hand and is politically biased on the other".
Should the station be built, Gush Shalom says there would be a need to build an opposing station, one that would "act towards ending the occupation and settlements and report on human rights violations", would be great.