On Sunday, Oct. 30, as leaders of the ruling coalition debated the issue of shutting down the newly founded Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, an emergency meeting was held at the Israel Democracy Institute. Knesset members, journalists and other leading decision makers attended.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner: "Something beautiful and unique happened two years ago when a law was passed that created a new corporation that would contain a mechanism for maintaining independence and an engine for facilitating local production. I hope and expect that the people behind this legislation, including Minister Gilad Erdan and other Likud members, won't simply accept any changes made to the law, and then justify this acceptance in some way, shape or form. Respective coalition party heads have an opportunity to confirm that the work of their factions will in no way harm the democratic institutions and values of the State of Israel. This issue can't simply be addressed as if we're dealing with just another political debate."
Knesset Faction Chairman MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu): "I am outraged by the attempt to portray the battle over the new public broadcasting corporation as a left-right issue. [Interior Minister Aryeh] Deri, [Education Minister Naftali] Bennett, and [Finance Minister Moshe] Kahlon do not represent 'left-wing' views. The difference between me and [Coalition Chairman David] Bitan is that I sat down with everyone and have seen the numbers. And the facts are crystal clear: Israeli citizens will have to pay an additional 400 million shekels every year if the corporation is not established. Everything can be streamlined for efficiency: the ports, the postal service, even the Standards Institute."
Folkman added: "While this story has two sides, the Prime Minister, who I have great respect for, is taking a disproportionate role in the running of the country's media. Politicians cannot formulate and manage the public agenda based on personal popularity."
Knesset House Committee Chairman MK Yoav Kish (Likud): "I have approached the corporation issue in an unbiased manner, not viewing it from either a leftist or rightist perspective. I sat down with officials at the Finance Ministry, as well as David Bitan. Unfortunately, I never did see a Finance Ministry document pertaining to the budget. It's worth noting that the Finance Ministry has its own agenda and, with regards to budgetary pensions, has made many mistakes. I believe in public broadcasting and want Israel to have a strong public broadcasting sector. ... I will not support the liquidation of the [Israeli] Public Broadcasting Corporation if it's not done in a financially equitable manner and does not lead to a savings of NIS 700 milliion."
Knesset Economic Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union): "If Netanyahu is allowed to control the corporation, its first targets will be Kish and Bitan. The media should start manning the barricades and stop acting like politicians. Attempts to turn this into a left-right matter are outrageous. ... How can leading politicians say, without batting an eyelash, that they won't allow anything against the government to be broadcast?"