MK Moshe Gafni

Gafni: 'It's irresponsible to go to elections now, but we won't stop it'

United Torah Judaism MK says that while ultra-Orthodox parties are against going to elections over the IPBC crisis between Netanyahu and Kahlon, they would not pose obstacles if the prime minister makes good on his threat.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said Monday that while his party was against going to early elections, it would not be a stumbling block should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make good on his threat.



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), the latter of which the prime minister seeks to close down.


Netanyahu has threatened to go to early elections if the dispute is not resolved, a move the vast majority of government ministers and coalition members oppose.


Netanyahu and Gafni (Photo: Motti Kimchi) (Photos: Motti Kimchi)
Netanyahu and Gafni (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


"We don't believe elections are the right thing (at this time)," Gafni said during a meeting at the Knesset's Finance Committee, which he chairs. "We believe that a country like ours, which is facing such great challenges and difficult problems, going to elections over the IBA and IPBC would be irresponsible."


However, he stressed that the ultra-Orthodox parties would not be the one to pose obstacles to the move. "We don't fear it and if needed, we'll turn to the voters again. We have no problem going to elections, it might even benefit us," he said. 


MK Roy Folkman of Kahlon's Kulanu party was outraged by Gafni's statements. "You are not pawns that you go to elections if you're told to. There's no reason to have elections every two years. The IPBC is no reason. Your responsibility is to stick to what you said, that you would not support unnecessary elections," he said.


Gafni's comments were in response to claims from the ruling Likud party that the ultra-Orthodox parties are against going to elections because they fear they would find themselves out of the next government.


During a coalition party leaders meeting on Sunday, Shas leader Aryeh Deri, UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman and MK Gafni threatened to take any possible step against going to elections at this time.


Litzman and Deri proposed that all of the ministers left the room so Netanyahu and Kahlon could resolve the crisis between them. The two were left alone and discussed the fate of the IPBC for 15 minutes.


Later that evening, Netanyahu invited Kahlon for another meeting, but it also failed to bear fruit as the two sides remained entrenched in their positions.


Senior officials in the Likud, who are involved in the negotiations between the two sides, said the closing of the IPBC has now become Netanyahu's main condition. Meanwhile, Kahlon has committed not to allow the closure of the state-funded broadcaster.


In private conversations, the prime minister said no changes can be made to the IPBC, and insisted that it must be closed.


He instructed the government's legal advisors to examine the possibility of calling the Knesset in for a special session during its hiatus to pass legislation that would bring to the IPBC's demise before it starts airing on April 30.


Despite the difficulties, sources close to Netanyahu and Kahlon have stressed that the two politicians were still open for compromise.


פרסום ראשון: 03.27.17, 12:30
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