TV May Air Bibi's Congress Speech, Says A-G

Attorney-General says the speech has clear news value and cannot be considered election propaganda.

Gil Ronen ,

Netanyahu in Congress, 2011
Netanyahu in Congress, 2011
Flash 90

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has decided that Israeli media may air Binyamin Netnayahu's upcoming speech before the US Congress, despite election laws that forbid the broadcasting of election “propaganda” by candidates and parties.

Channel 2 reported that Weinstein sees the speech as having “clear news value” and that he has determined that it may be therefore broadcasted like any other news event.

Weinstein conveyed his opinion to MK Zehava Galon, Chairwoman of Meretz, who requested that the speech be banned from television and radio. He explained that there is no way to determine in advance that the speech will constitute forbidden election propaganda, and therefore – it is permissible to air it.

The A-G added that the speech's timing was determined by “external schedules” connected with the Iranian nuclear issue, and that it is a direct part of the prime minister's job.

"The speech will deal with important matters relating to Israel's foreign policy, in which there is widespread public interest,” explained Weinstein, who added that Netanyahu will be briefed by government lawyers before he takes off for Washington, to avoid making statements during the speech that fall into the definition of propaganda.

Weinstein noted that the media may choose whether they wish to broadcast the speech live, or not.

Channel 2 has extended an invitation to all the heads of the parties with a realistic chance to enter the Knesset, to take part in a TV debate. The channel says everyone except Netanyahu and UTJ's Yaakov Litzman has agreed to attend.

While Israel's electronic media interview do candidates in the run-up to the election, they do not allow them to make statements that call on voters to choose one side or another in the polls, or sound like blatant electioneering. Such statements are only allowed when they are made by the anchorpeople and reporters themselves.