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Top Israeli reporter on live TV: Not sure I want my kids to stay here

Channel 2’s veteran military correspondent delivers despairing outburst during debate on latest coalition machinations

Roni Daniel, left, bangs his fist on the table during a Channel 2 studio debate, May 20, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Roni Daniel, left, bangs his fist on the table during a Channel 2 studio debate, May 20, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)

Amid the controversial current shake-up of the Israeli government, the veteran military correspondent of Israel’s most-watched television channel declared on live TV Friday that he was no longer sure he wants his children to live in Israel.

Gray-haired, long-time reporter Roni Daniel, a former IDF officer who was injured in the 1967 Six Day War before he went to journalism, was speaking during a live discussion on Channel 2 News’s top-rated Friday night news program about the resignation earlier in the day of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and his imminent anticipated replacement by former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.

Ya’alon is a former chief of staff and is widely seen as a moral and dependable figure; Liberman, a former corporal, is widely regarded as hawkish and populist.

Reflecting on the political machinations engineered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Daniel suddenly declared, “After this week, I’m not sure I want my children to remain here.”

Pressed on why he would say such a thing, Daniel said it was a consequence of what he called “the culture of government” now prevailing in Israel, and then listed the names of four hawkish politicians in the current coalition, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Miri Regev and Bezalel Smotrich, whose actions and views he said symbolized the deterioration. “I’ll stay here,” Daniel said. “My children, I’m not so sure.”

As the discussion continued, another Channel 2 veteran, Amnon Abromowitz, remarked, a little flippantly, “Before Roni leaves the studio and his children leave the country…,” at which point Daniel banged his fist on the table and accused his colleague of not taking him seriously.

At that point, Abromowitz attempted to calm the angry and upset Daniel, telling him that Netanyahu “will eventually end his rule,” and urging him to “look at this as an intermediary period.”

Later in the broadcast, Daniel was asked to repeat his declaration, with a Netanyahu loyalist, Minister Yuval Steinitz, now in the studio. “I can’t command my children to stay here. It’s not a pleasant place to be,” Daniel said. “They’ll make up their own minds, but if I had thought in the past that it would be a disaster (if they left), not any more.”

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