Will Israelis get to hear Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu make his address before the US Congress on the question of the Iran nuclear deal in real time?
The Central Elections Committee has said that they will not – the fact that the speech falls just a week and a half before the elections, the Committee said, could mean that it will be perceived as “electioneering” by Israelis, and therefore called for a delay to allow censorship.
But the Committee does not have the last word on such matters; the High Court does, and in the wake of the decision Wednesday by the Court to overturn the Committee's ban on allowing Baruch Marzel and Hanin Zoabi to run for the Knesset, a private citizen – Itay Forman, by name – has filed a petition with the Court, urging it to overturn the decision on banning Netanyahu's speech as well.
Several weeks ago, leftist groups sought to ban broadcasting the speech altogether, over the possibility that Netanyahu will take advantage of it to promote himself in an election speech.
Committee chairman Salim Joubran, himself a High Court judge, has offered a compromise; television networks will be allowed to broadcast the speech with a delay of five minutes, allowing them to edit out sections of the speech that appear to be election-connected.
Forman seeks to allow the speech to be presented live. “Democratic countries do not ban live telecasts,” said Forman in his petition. “Countries like North Korea ban them.”
In addition, the petition said, postponing broadcast of the speech is “absurd,” because it is going to be carried live on satellite news channels, radio, and the Internet – making Israel look very silly as nearly the only place in the world where residents will not be able to listen to what their Prime Minister has to say.