Netanyahu meets with finance minister in effort to prevent elections

Although no significant progress has been made in a dispute between Netanyahu and his finance minister over public broadcasting, a potential deal is reportedly being considered. 

In an effort to prevent a looming downward spiral towards the possibility of new parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met on Wednesday for the fourth time since a dispute arose over whether to disband the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

A serious effort at reaching a consensus was apparent, with the participation of other high-ranking officials close to both Netanyahu and Kahlon, including the prime minister’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz; Tourism Minister Yariv Levin; Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman; Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad; and the Communications Ministry’s director-general, Shlomo Filber.

Despite the attempted breakthrough, no significant progress was reported. However, a proposal is being discussed in an attempt to postpone for another month the set deadline of April 30 to disband the IBA. Under consideration will be the merging of the IBA and its staff with a new public broadcasting body.

The attorney general would apparently need to give a stamp of approval for any consensus reached.

A senior Likud official reportedly said that if the legal problems are not sorted out in order to pave the way for a new arrangement, the government will likely dissolve, leading to new elections.

“The central problem right now is legal,” the official was quoted as saying to Haaretz. “No one has found a solution that all the parties agree on that would also get the approval of the legal advisers. If no such solution is found, Netanyahu could go to elections.”

Meanwhile, Likud MK David Bitan, the coalition chairman, has blamed Netanyahu and other government ministers for giving Kahlon an incentive not to negotiate.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News