Kafe Knesset for May 8

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Welcome back, Knesset: It may feel like the Knesset never left, but, in fact, today is the first full day of the summer session after the Knesset’s Passover recess. There is a lot on the agenda for MKs in the coming months and today’s busy schedule reflects that.

The marathon debates on public broadcasting are continuing, with coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) maintaining his usual bluster. The special committee formed to work on the bill has less than a week to finish its work, but it has been discussing minutiae like specific reporters’ jobs, whether or not right-wing reporters have been hired by the nascent Israel Broadcast Corporation or not (they have, but some Likud MKs are in denial), and whether two people have been hired to do the same job. A significant portion of the debate was devoted to major cuts to Radio Reka, which broadcasts in languages other than Hebrew and Arabic; some meeting attendees were amazed to find that there is a daily 15 minute news show in Aramaic.

The Knesset has even more contentious bills planned for the months ahead. Yesterday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the controversial “Jewish nation-state bill.” Other decisions – like what to do with a bill overriding the Supreme Court ruling to allow supermarkets in Tel Aviv to be open on Shabbat – were postponed, but will likely come up in the next few months.

“In Basel, I established the Jewish State:” Meanwhile, tonight, Netanyahu is expected to give a speech to belatedly mark Herzl Day – the Zionist visionary’s birthday – in the Knesset. Maybe he will confirm reports from the Swiss press that he plans to visit Basel in August for the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, which Herzl organized in the city. According to the Telebasel news site, the city is not so excited about a possible high-profile visit and its cost.

Mazel Tov Macron: Israeli politicians, Right and Left, were overwhelmingly happy to see the center-left candidate win the election in France. Yair Lapid, who sees a lot of himself in Macron, seemed the most excited, congratulating his “friend” for his “victory over Holocaust deniers, the center over the extreme.” Netanyahu congratulated Macron, saying: “I look forward to working with President-elect Macron to confront the common challenges and seize the opportunities facing our two democracies. One of the greatest threats facing the world is radical Islamic terror which has struck Paris, Jerusalem and many other cities worldwide.” Almost all French voters in Israel – 96.3% – voted for Macron.

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