Kahlon throws support behind new Regev loyalty bill

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) and Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) presented a new bill Thursday that would prevent extremists who oppose the State of Israel from receiving government funding for cultural projects.

The bill presented on Thursday is the latest version of a bill that Regev has been pushing for years – allowing the Culture Ministry the power to cut funding to projects and initiatives it deems unworthy. The bill would be an amendment to the current Culture and Art Law.

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"Israel has freedom of cultural expression, but there is no freedom to harm the values and symbols of the state," Regev and Kahlon said in a joint statement. "The purpose of the bill is to give the right tools to the relevant bodies to prevent harming the basic values of the state."

Regev was unsuccessful in passing her before the last Knesset session ended, and has vowed to resurrect that bill – which would give the culture minister more control – as well. An earlier version of her loyalty bill, first presented in 2016, was criticized by Kahlon and never passed into law.

The Knesset returns to session on October 15 after a four month summer and holiday recess. Passing a controversial new bill from start to finish by the time the Knesset disbands is nearly impossible.

Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson blasted the bill, saying "Miri, we already saw that movie! The minister of silencing culture is recycling another law into the bin of anti-democratic bills advanced by the current government. this is why we need elections immediately."

Uri Reshtik, the CEO of Shaham, the Israeli Actors Guild, said "we won‘t agree to cynical use of culture, and we won‘t allow the budgets of cultural organizations to be hurt because of the political bias of one minister or another."

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