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Netanyahu’s TV appearance nixed over violation of election rules

Central Elections Committee bans ‘Stand-up Nation’ from airing comedy clip featuring PM; Likud says it’ll appeal, claims it’s being ‘censored’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit at a Covid-19 vaccination center in Zarzir, northern Israel, February 9, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit at a Covid-19 vaccination center in Zarzir, northern Israel, February 9, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Central Elections Committee on Tuesday ordered a network to shelve a comedy segment with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after ruling that the content included political messaging banned under Israel’s campaign rules.

Netanyahu had been filmed on Channel 13’s “Stand-Up Nation,” with the episode set to air on Tuesday night.

Judge Uzi Fogelman, in his decision, said: “Indeed, watching the segment shows that its purpose is entertainment. However, throughout the clip, there are messages that relate directly to issues on the political agenda.”

Fogelman said the clip could be aired after the March 23 elections. He said it could not be shared earlier on the show’s social media accounts.

Netanyahu’s Likud party said it would appeal the decision, claiming it was being “censored” while other politicians are granted softball interviews on morning shows, and the “Eretz Nehederet” political satire show is permitted to be on air.

“There cannot be one law for Likud and another for the rest,” the right-wing party said.

The Central Elections Committee is tasked with overseeing the national vote and ensuring Israel’s campaign laws are heeded, including its restrictions on electioneering on television ahead of the vote. Its rulings can be appealed to the Supreme Court.

In the run-up to the election, Israel’s fourth in two years, Netanyahu — who largely avoids giving interviews to Israeli media — has given a series of television and radio interviews, where he was grilled on the government’s response to the pandemic and his corruption trial.

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