Kafe Knesset for October 16
Bibi versus the Police: With the continued corruption investigations against Netanyahu, the Prime Minister has taken his responses up a notch. Now he is not only blaming the “Fake News Media,” but he cast aspersions on the Police. On Saturday night, a Facebook post went up on Netanyahu’s page that is still a hot topic in Israel today. The PM pointed out that the Police spent millions of shekels to pay media adviser Lior Chorev – who worked with Kadima and Kulanu in the past – and connecting it to leaks to the press about the probes. Chorev called the accusations “delusional.” The opposition, unsurprisingly, went wild, accusing Netanyahu of undermining the rule of law. Herzog – who is still the opposition leader in the Knesset even though Gabbay is Labor leader – said Netanyahu is “inciting and dividing for his own personal interest at the expense of the unity of the nation and harming the symbols of law and government.” And the unofficial opposition, Ehud Barak, tweeted that “Netanyahu is panicking and attacking his investigators who are investigating him with courage and integrity.” A minor Twitter war broke out when Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari – as in, a member of the coalition – criticized Netanyahu for making the comments, and Likud MK Nava Boker responded, and then other MKs started piling on.
Meanwhile, the Likud is working a new way to defend Netanyahu from investigations, by passing the so-called“French Law.” The law, a excerpt of an article in the French constitution that, in short, says the president cannot be investigated for crimes during his tenure. MK David Amsalem, who proposed the bill, said it cannot apply retroactively, so it will not impact the current investigations. There is also talk in the coalition about having the bill go together with term limits – but with a twist, making it a limit on the number of years someone can be prime minister, since Knesset terms can be of different lengths. That law would also not apply to Netanyahu.
Back in action: The Knesset’s summer recess is coming to a close next week, and the government is preparing with a blitz of new initiatives. One is re-launching the NGO wars. The coalition party leaders agreed to have a parliamentary commission of inquiry into foreign government funding of organizations that they deemed to be anti-IDF. “There is no more moral army than the IDF. That is a fact. Therefore we made this important decision today,” Netanyahu said of the committee. He vowed to put an end to what he said was foreign governments’ intervention in Israel’s internal affairs. “Our soldiers protect us, and we will protect them,” Netanyahu stated.
This NGO law flew under the radar, because it was announced at the same time as the cabinet’s approval of an initiative to increase the number of political appointees each minister is allowed to hire, and building new roads in the West Bank, and what appears to be just a spin or a distraction about dismantling “Kan,” the new public broadcasting corporation.
About the “Kan” cancellation that is not happening – despite the fact that everyone seems to be talking about it, there is no serious proposal on the table. The cabinet discussed budgetary sources for some of the things it is proposing, and Interior Minister Arye Deri suggested canceling Kan’s TV channel. Communications Minister Ayoub Kara tweeted that Kan will be cancelled – even though there was no further discussion of the matter. Then he deleted the tweet. Whoops.