Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) sharply expressed his opposition to the postponement of the date when the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation will go on air.
The Broadcasting Corporation is set to replace the longstanding Israel Broadcast Authority, with the new Corporation expected to modernize broadcasting operations as well as implement other reforms. It was announced over the past few days that the transition had been postponed.
"In the past few hours things have been getting clearer in my mind. All the legislation meant to limit the media makes me deeply worried about the future of free speech. A free press is the basis for democracy," Bennett wrote on Twitter last night (Tuesday).
A source within the Likud responded to Bennett's comments, saying that "it's very odd that Minister Naftali Bennett, who led the legislative push to close the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, is suddenly so deeply concerned for the future of free speech."
Bennett's opposition joins that of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who lamented the high costs of the postponement.
Kahlon vowed in interviews with the media that the additional expense will not come at the public's expense. "I will not let public funds be tossed away to places where they're not needed," the Minister said.
The furor comes on the heels of an announcement Monday night to the effect that, by agreement between the Chairman of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel), and the Director-General of Communications ministry, the old Broadcasting Authority will only close at the start of 2018 - and only then will the new Corporation begin operations.
Conversations between Chairman Avi Nissenkorn of the Histadrut and Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber, had reportedly established that the new Broadcasting Corporation, originally slated to go on air in October of this year, wasn't yet fully prepared.