Livni: Netanyahu Wants to Control the Media

Former minister claims PM wants to destroy democracy, save Israel Hayom. Meanwhile, Netanyahu makes life hard for Channel 10.

Tova Dvorin,

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni

The entire elections campaign was a ploy by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take over the media, Zionist Union (Labor-Hatnua) MK Tzipi Livni accused Tuesday morning. 

"When they told me to go to elections because of the Israel Hayom Bill, I thought it was inconceivable," Livni, who was formerly Justice Minister but was fired for repeatedly antagonizing and ignoring Netanyahu, stated on Army Radio's "Good Morning Israel" show. 

"The only two things that Likud and the prime minister asked for in coalition agreements were to dominate the media and weaken the Supreme Court." 

"The real barrier ​​against a dictatorship is the Supreme Court and the media, which is the watchdog of democracy," Livni claimed further. "Once he takes over the media he can dictate his outlook for all Israelis, this is the way of the leaders who slowly disintegrate democracy in their countries."

Livni's comments are puzzling, as much of Israel's mainstream media openly attacked Netanyahu and supported her party throughout the elections process - to the point where several outlets were accused of anti-Netanyahu bias.

The grave disparity in slants on events was parodied in a "You Be the Judge" (formerly Latma) satire episode shortly before the elections, noting the differences between the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom and the far larger outlet Yediot Aharonot, which was cited frequently as blatantly leftist.  

However, the remarks may be a response to a recent decision by Netanyahu to uphold strict legal hurdles against leftist news outlet Channel 10, which was nearly shuttered last year. According to the current agreement, which Netanyahu upheld in his last hours of serving as Finance Minister for the previous government, the company running the channel must invest at least 16.8 million shekels ($4.4 million) in the channel over a two-to-three year period, to be eligible for extending its broadcast license, which it has not done yet. The Finance Ministry's Budgetary Branch, however, has maintained that the investment need only be about 5 million shekels ($1.3 million). 

Critics of the Supreme Court, meanwhile - including current Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) - note that current laws have tipped checks and balances in Israel disproportionately to the court system, allowing it to nullify most Knesset votes even after they have already been ratified into law.