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Right-wingers Left Fuming After Raid on Pirate Israeli Radio Station

June 18, 1998
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An Israeli police raid on a right-wing radio station has left the country’s nationalist and settler camps fuming at the government.

Police said the actions against the offices of Arutz-7 in Tel Aviv, its studios in the Jewish settlement of Beit El and a transmission facility near the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha were intended to prove that the station, which broadcasts from a ship off the Israeli coast, was not operating outside the territorial boundaries of Israel, as it claims.

A number of individuals active in the station’s operations were also expected to be summoned for questioning.

The move, which was approved by Israel’s attorney general, infuriated members of the country’s nationalist camp, who claimed that it was conducted in retaliation for a decision by Jewish settler leaders to launch a public campaign against the prime minister and a U.S.-proposed plan to carry out a 13 percent further redeployment from the West Bank in return for security guarantees.

According to the Yesha Council, which represents settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the public campaign will include the establishment of a tent camp across from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem that would be staffed by residents of various settlements.

“Maybe the prime minister says he was not aware of plans to raid the station, but as head of the entire establishment, he is ultimately responsible for what happens,” said Aharon Domb, spokesman for the council.

Moledet Knesset member Rehavam Ze’evi accused Netanyahu of trying to silence the same electorate that put him in office, and Knesset member Shmaryahu Ben- Zur of the National Religious Party warned that the NRP would pull out of the coalition if Netanyahu does not make good on earlier promises to grant Arutz- 7 a license.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, denied that he wants to shut down the station. The prime minister met Wednesday with NRP ministers, Communications Minister Limor Livnat and other officials to discuss the Arutz-7 broadcasts.

He also denied reports that NRP minister Yitzhak Levy had threatened to resign if the matter was not resolved.

“You see that minister Levy is here with us today, as part of a special panel trying to find a solution for the problem,” Netanyahu told reporters. “The legal status of Arutz-7 has not been resolved for 10 years. I hope we will be able to.”

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