After a series of debates and amidst threats to call a national election and a general strike, the Israeli government have reached a deal for the nation’s broadcaster.

A new bill for Israel’s public broadcaster is expected to pass today, only one day after the accelerated legislative process began.

The controversy

After a strong debate between the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the Israeli government might have reached a final agreement for the fate of nation’s public broadcaster that sees the merging of two bodies, the old Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC).

The controversy started back in 2014, when the Israeli Prime Minister had approved the establishment of IPBC. However, in October last year, Netanyahu decided to backtrack on his plans, in an attempt to prevent the IPBC from forming and support maintaining the IBA instead. His main opposition to the new agency was that the IPBC had a guarantee of editorial independence and the state could not control it.

In the last few months, the debate between the parties has exacerbated so much that Netanyahu threatened to call early elections a few weeks ago. Israel’s public sectors also planned to organise a strike for Tuesday if a deal had not been reached.

A new deal

The crisis, however, was averted after the two parties reached a deal. The IBA will run the IPBC’s news division, which will be run by a new Director General, who will be nominated by a council that is directed by a judge. The IPBC will then manage six radio channels and three tv channels except those including current events and news content. In addition, 65% of IPBC’s employees will have to be from the IBA, and all IBA senior workers (aged 40-50) will be granted a place and prevented from any future dismissal.

Kahlon claimed victory over the compromised deal reached with the Prime Minister.

“I have stood as a rock for democracy and taxpayer money,” said the Finance Minister . “There will be no political influence over any media outlet, and in the Israel Broadcasting Corporation that is being formed, the politicians have been distanced. Its monitoring council will be untouchable by politicians.”

 But the Israeli Journalism Council has criticised the new bill, arguing that it undermines freedom of the press, the values of public broadcasting and the work of journalists.

“This move is unjustified and has no logical explanation, will certainly weaken journalism in public broadcasting, bring in an era of instability and harm the journalistic services the public will receive,” the Council said. “The bill reeks of personal legislation meant to chop off heads and harm the managers of the IBC, fire its justly appointed news manager and create a chilling effect on all journalists in public broadcasting.”

The coalition is now rushing to pass the amendment, as the law in place mandates that the IBA will cease to exist on 30 April and will be replaced by the IPBC. If the new deal is approved, the amended IPBC will go on air on May 15.