The conflict between Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Netanyahu's call for Kahlon to support a further six-month delay before Kan, the new public broadcasting authority, starts operating is escalating.
During the "Power to Change" conference held by Kav Hayedidut today, Kahlon was asked about his relations with Netanyahu. He answered, "Like they say, 'Kahlon and Netanyahu are no longer a couple." Political sources believe that the current tension is not confined to the broadcasting authority, but involves the likelihood that the prime minister will be indicted, leading to early elections.
Over the past two months, Kahlon has begun behind-the-scenes preparations for elections, among other things by establishing a Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) faction in close cooperation with Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn. They met yesterday and agreed on a further increase in the number of Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) workers who would be hired by the new broadcasting corporation, and on an improvement in the terms for the funded pensions of workers forced to retire.
"Establishing the corporation was a mistake, but it is not too late to correct it," Netanyahu said yesterday in a speech at an evening for members of the coalition at a hotel in Hadera. "I call on the Minister of Finance to support a delay and a law to step up media supervision, because that is what the people want." This immediately inflamed the situation, following an especially tense week between the two men.
Kahlon, who greatly dislikes being saddled again by Netanyahu with responsibility for the future of the workers at the IBA, which is due to dissolve at the end of April, responded in kind. "I won't accept Netanyahu playing games and using spin at my expense. Establishing the corporation is the Likud's law, not mine," he said in conversations behind closed doors.
It was later learned that in a personal conversation between Netanyahu and Kahlon earlier this week, Kahlon attacked Netanyahu, saying, "Your only real interest is in control, not public broadcasting." According to various reports, Kahlon extended the front against Netanyahu beyond the new broadcasting authority by attacking his general policy. "You're never there when things are tough, but when there are achievements, you show up and take the credit. I'm not in the Likud any more. I'm not your number two or number three," Kahlon exclaimed.
Among other things, Kahlon was referring to the fact that Netanyahu announced that the decision to cut taxes was a joint decision by him and the minister of finance, although Kahlon has been talking about it for a long time, and that Netanyahu also hurried to take the credit after the Central Bureau of Statistics published its figures for Israel's macroeconomic results.
Kahlon's comrades in the Kulanu party also joined the fray. Immediately following Netanyahu's speech about the broadcasting corporation, Knesset Economic Affairs Committee member MK Roy Folkman posted on his Twitter account, "How embarrassing. Netanyahu was indifferent for years to the IBA and its employees. Now he's making more spin at the workers' expense at an evening for coalition members."
MKs also mentioned yesterday that Netanyahu, who is now so eager to praise the IBA, made an unfortunate comparison of IBA workers to Hamas terrorists during the last election campaign.
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev yesterday spoke out in defense of Netanyahu, sending a message saying, "I was glad to hear the prime minister say that establishing the corporation was a mistake. As he said, mistakes can be corrected, and certainly if they are at the taxpayers' expense. It should be done here and now."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 16, 2017
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