Protest against libel bill
Photo: Reuters

Barak: Libel bill needs refining

Defense minister, who backed controversial bill in first reading, says 'some journalists can't be trusted not to embarrass people publicly'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak explained his support for a controversial libel bill,  saying that "Power corrupts, and the press has power."


The libel bill - an amendment to the Defamation Law – aims to increase the maximum compensation paid for libel violations to NIS 300,000 (roughly $80,500). Knesset members warn that the amendment would erode Israel's democracy and violate the freedom of the press.


The amendment passed its first Knesset reading on Monday.


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"Some journalists can be trusted not to embarrass people publicly, but there are others (who cannot be trusted)," Barak said in a conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday.


"The balances are not in the right place. I am in favor (of the legislation)…But the court will eventually decide. It's clear that before the second and third readings the proposal will have to be modified to create balance," said the defense minister.


Some have claimed that Barak is backing the legislation as a means of "settling the score" with the press.


However, unlike other members of the Coalition, Barak said he objected to other so-called rightist proposals pertaining to the appointment of Supreme Court justices. "I believe this initiative is wrong, and I am against it. Today I learned of a new bill which would (restrict the ability to file petitions against government actions in the High Court of Justice). I am against this, and the Independence faction will do everything in its power to fight it," he said.


The defense minister also defended his decision to join a right-wing government. "With all due modesty, I am more valuable working from within the Coalition than I would have been sitting with Kadima and Meretz (in the Opposition)," he said.


Naama Cohen-Friedman contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 11.24.11, 20:09
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