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Netanyahu Seeks to Take Control of Israeli Media

© AP Photo / Gali TibbonIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office, Sunday, March 8, 2015. Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday night at a Tel Aviv square under the banner "Israel wants change" and called for Netanyahu to be replaced in March 17 national elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office, Sunday, March 8, 2015. Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday night at a Tel Aviv square under the banner Israel wants change and called for Netanyahu to be replaced in March 17 national elections. - Sputnik International
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "wants to terrorize the media and keep it on a short leash", media restrictions are included in coalition agreements as a clause, according to a source familiar with the documents.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin (R) attend a press conference at the president's residence in Jerusalem on April 20, 2015 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on a clause to be included in coalition agreements, currently being negotiated by his Likud party and other factions, which would empower him to decide on which media laws the coalition will pass, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

Netanyahu is currently faced with the challenge of meeting the extended deadline to finalize the talks on the final coalition deal and form a new government after his Likud party won the general election on March 17.

“Netanyahu wants to terrorize the media and keep it on a short leash. This could cause serious damage to Israeli democracy,” a source familiar with the clause told Haaretz. “The clause is rather ambiguous, which means the coalition partners might end up signing it,” the source added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Sputnik International
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Some senior figures in various parties, according to Haaretz, denied the existence of such a clause, stating that the issue had not been raised during the talks with Likud.

Israel has been repeatedly criticized by watchdogs for press freedom oppression. Due to ongoing conflicts with Palestinian groups, freedom of information in Israel is often sacrificed in favor of security needs. Media outlets are often subject to military censorship and gag orders, with journalists facing travel restrictions.

Israel is ranked 101 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) released by Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit organization registered in France that defends freedom of information, and has consultative status with the United Nations.

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