Netanyahu Faces Unrest in Knesset as Early Elections Loom

“A fool spendeth all his spirit; but a wise man stilleth it within him.” Proverbs 29:11 (The Israel Bible™)

A conflict between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu party, may lead to the dissolution of  the Likud-led coalition and early elections.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Photo: JNi Media/Knesset)

The dispute is over establishing  the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC). The prime minister wants to abort the establishment of the new broadcasting authority, reviving the existing Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) instead. Until recently, Netanyahu also served as the country’s communications minister. Kahlon wants to establish a new broadcasting authority with less government intervention. Netanyahu claims that cancelling the plans for the new authority would save the state $658 million.

At a cultural event on Saturday, Coalition Chairman David Bitan told reporters on Saturday there was “a good chance” the Likud party would decide to call for national elections soon if the conflict is not resolved.

“We won’t have opinions and decisions forced upon us. Not by Kulanu and not by Bayit Yehudi. If these threats and remarks will continue, there’s a good chance we’ll be heading toward elections.”

MK Miri Regev
MK Miri Regev (Photo: David Rabkin/ Facebook)

In a statement released Saturday night by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud), said, “The Prime Minister and the government need to commit to re-evaluating the entire issue. We did this together with the Israel Broadcasting Authority and our conclusion was very clear: We demand a responsible Broadcasting Authority, and not not one which wastes tens of millions of shekels on unnecessary things and which functions as a closed circuit.”

“I hope the other coalition members will act responsibly towards the Israeli public, and respect the coalition agreements. I hope they will not force Israeli citizens to undergo unnecessary elections.”

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Naftali Bennett (Photo: Naftali Bennett Facebook page)

The leader of the Jewish Home Party and Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, is also in conflict with Netanyahu over the closing of a pre-army academy due to comments made by its head rabbi concerning women soldiers.

At a cabinet meeting last week, Bennett said to Netanyahu, “At the moment of truth you abandoned religious Zionism and forgot to care for one of its most glorious institutions whose contribution is a contribution to the entire State of Israel.”

The United Torah Judaism party is also threatening to vote against the coalition unless a committee overseeing school licensing is established by Monday. According to their coalition agreement with Likud in 2015, this committee should have been established  within 60 days of the establishment of the government.