PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Sunday, 24 July 2016), at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, made the following remarks:
"Today, the Cabinet will approve the law to increase and strengthen enforcement in the field of planning and construction. Our government is investing considerable resources in developing the Arab sector – economic development, education, transportation, housing solutions and other issues. Alongside all of these, we are working to create a reality of one state with one law; law and order for everyone, without exception. This is desirable and the time has come for it to be so in the State of Israel.
This evening I will meet with the President of Cyprus, my friend Nicos Anastasiades. He is coming to Jerusalem. Of course, many things have taken place in the region and I ascribe great importance to our relations, especially at this time. Naturally, we will discuss various developments in the region as well as the question of the gas outline and the supply of gas, that interest our countries and others.
Recently, I have heard much verbiage about my attempts, as it were, to take control of the communications market. The opposite is true. Let us start with public broadcasting. If I wanted to darken the screen for public broadcasting, I would allow the new corporation to go on the air when it is unready. The corporation would fail and Channel 1 would go dark or be grounded; therefore, an extension is needed to allow the new corporation to get properly organized and go on the air when it is ready. During the extension, the current public broadcasting, Channel #1, will continue to broadcast and their screen will not go dark.
But the main part of the reform I am bringing is not there. The main part of the reform is commercial television channels. The time has come for there to be more television and news channels that will be able to compete with the existing channels. Israel has cartelization of television broadcasts that is almost unprecedented in the free world. I checked countries that are our size and smaller. Denmark has six television channels. Belgium has five and Finland eight. The Israeli public is crying out, it is crying out and it is entitled to receive freedom of choice vis-à-vis television as well, and I am working to this end.
Just like when there were only two cellphone companies, two bus companies, two airlines, and today there are more because we opened the markets to competition – thus it will be in the communications market. Any investor – from the right or left, above or below, from the side, from the center – will be able to invest in these channels. It is the Israeli public that will choose what to watch and nobody will choose for it. The reason that I am holding the Communications portfolio is in order to open this market to competition like I opened many other markets in the Israeli economy to competition.
I would like to clarify something else: I will be neither bought nor deterred, not with criticism, not with mudslinging and not with fawning air time which, as you know, I receive endlessly. I understand one thing – the greater the opposition to opening the communications market, the more I understand that I am doing the right thing."