Education minister says National Library deal reached amid threat to independence

Incoming Education Minister Yoav Kisch (left) at a handover ceremony with outgoing minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, at the Education Ministry in Jerusalem on January 1, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussil/FLASH90)
Incoming Education Minister Yoav Kisch (left) at a handover ceremony with outgoing minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, at the Education Ministry in Jerusalem on January 1, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussil/FLASH90)

Education Minister Yoav Kisch says he has reached a deal with the National Library over greater government control over its board of directors amid an outcry over his planned legislation that critics say would undermine the institution’s independence.

Kisch says the deal will allow him to appoint an additional representative to the Library’s board, who will have access to all the institution’s dealings.

In exchange, he is pulling legislation that would allow the government to determine the entire makeup of the library’s board.

His plans had come under intense criticism from the Library, universities and authors who say the legislation undermines lass guaranteeing the library independence from political control.

Hebrew media reports on the bill have noted that right-wing politicians have been targeting the library for the past year since the appointment of former state attorney Shai Nitzan as library rector.

Nitzan was heavily involved in preparing the corruption charges against Netanyahu. He came under fire by Netanyahu and his allies throughout the investigation of the prime minister in three corruption probes, and particularly since the filing of charges — bribery, breach of trust and fraud — against him.

Nitzan has been portrayed by the prime minister’s associates, without proof, as a left-wing activist bent on removing the premier from office through illegitimate means.

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