Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Western Wall
Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Western Wall FLASH90

Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday that he will not grant any interviews to Army Radio until pundit Irit Linur returns. Linur was suspended for a week on Wednesday for calling President Rivlin "insolent".

"Until Irit Linor's return to the radio station, I also refuse to grant interviews to Army Radio," wrote Bennett on Facebook. Bennett pointed out that "for one rude statement that she was suspended for a week from Army Radio, yet when host Rino Tzror called Netanyahu the [Turkish President] Erdoğan of the Holy Land [he went unpunished]...For all this, there was no explanation, no suspension, nothing."

"Linur's statements were rude, and she was prepared to apologize, but Army Radio preferred to suspend her," continued Bennett. "This is a selective and unfair violation of her freedom of speech. I call on the Army Radio commander to lift her suspension."

Linur had taken issue with President Rivlin's apparent support for the weekly anti-corruption rallies across Israel, which often target the right-wing. "The only thing you’ve been able to do is serve as a deputy minister, and now, as a president and national symbol, you call on citizens to go out into the street [against the current government]? You insolent piece of work! Who do you think you are?" asked Linur on her Tuesday show.

While Linur once expressed left-leaning views, and represented the left on the show The Final Word - based roughly on the format of the American show Crossfire - in recent years she has offered criticism of the Israeli left.

Army Radio head Shimon Alkabetz decided to suspend Linur as a result, saying in a statement that "Irit Linur’s comments on the president were not fitting, nor was the way they were expressed".

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also decried Army Radio's decision to suspend Linur, telling the station that Linur had been a victim of left-wing censorship. "It's important for me to protest the suspension of Irit Linur," Shaked said during an interview.

"You should tolerate Linur's criticism as part of freedom of expression," continued Shaked. "This isn't the first time the station has done this. Your station has called me fascist and autistic, yet I don't make a big deal about it. A radio station is supposed to give everyone a platform."

Army Radio has come under fire in the past for failing to be objective and skewing towards the left side of the political map. One host made headlines in 2014 after he declared popular singer Ehud Banai persona non grata because Banai performed in Susia, the site of a Jewish comunity from Talmudic times where archaologists found the remains of a synagogue and mikvah, located near Hevron in Area C.