Tensions have erupted between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister Ofir Akunis over Netanyahu's plans to cancel a clause in the Public Broadcast Law that would limit journalistic bias in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Akunis is now claiming that Netanyahu specifically approved a number of amendments to the Public Broadcast Law, including the clause on journalistic bias.
A conversation between Netanyahu, Akunis and MK Tzahi Hanegbi – the coalition chairman who headed the special committee which prepared the law – to that effect was also apparently caught on camera by the Knesset Channel.
Netanyahu's aides, however, claim that Akunis and Hanegbi never provided him with a full explanation of the clause, and therefore when the Prime Minister realized its full implications, he chose to cancel it.
After the Prime Minister killed the clause, an angry Akunis gave up his position, returning full control of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and The Second Television and Radio Authority to Netanyahu, who also serves as Communications Minister.
Akunis argued that "at no point was there the intention to prohibit expression of opinion on programs. The goal of the clause was to sharpen the ethics of news broadcasting."
"The goal of the Public Broadcast Law was never meant to shut people up. On the contrary: the goal is to open mouths," Akunis added.
The Prime Minister's Office said in response that "all of Netanyahu's associates in Likud were appointed to senior positions in the government the coalition. The Prime Minister does not need to stick to mistaken positions expressed by associates."