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State's answer exposes illegal broadcasting by settler radio

The settler radio Galey Yisrael ("Israel Waves") placed an aerial inside Israel - violating the terms of the license which allows the station to operate only in the Occupied Territories and ignoring the Green Line boundaries.
So it appears from the state's response to an appeal filed in the Supreme Court by Gush Shalom.

The State Attorney's Office filed its answer to the appeal lodged by the "Gush Shalom" movement, via Adv. Gaby Lasky, demanding an end to the broadcasts of the settler radio station Galey Yisrael ("Israel Waves") aimed at population centers within the Green Line (pre-1967 border), contrary to the terms of the license issued to this station.

The state's response indicates that due to "technical problems", The Minister of Communications and the Second Broadcasting Authority permitted the station to place a broadcasting facility on the "Eitanim" site in the Jerusalem mountains, within the Green Line. This means that within Israel was established an aerial of a station broadcasting outside of the state, thus blurring the distinction between Israeli sovereign territory and the Occupied Territories which are under a military government. The Ministry of Communications relies on an article in the law allowing a regional radio station to exceed its concession area "temporarily" (for an undefined periodic) for as much as "15 kilometers". This is a wide-open "loophole" – exceeding by 15 kilometers a concession area embracing the entire West Bank in practice enables transmission to most population centers in Israel and creates what is for all intents and purposes a country-wide broadcasting station.

"Ironically, the information provided by the State in its response to the Supreme Court provides additional evidence to our contention that this is not at all a "regional radio station" for the settlers; what we have here is an attempt to create through the backdoor a political and ideological broadcasting station – for the extreme right and for it it alone" says Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson. The settler radio directors, in their own response to the court, play dumb and pretend that this is a technical issue only. In fact, it is a most crucial political issue, involving blatant and anti-democratic discrimination. On the main contentious issue which divides the Israeli society over the past 45 years, one side is provided with its own radio station, where it is in sole charge of the programming. This possibility is flatly denied to the other side in the debate. If the government wants to open the airwaves to political and ideological stations, it can take the fair and democratic highway to this destination – to do it openly, according to a law guaranteeing all political camps in Israel an equal opportunity to open their own broadcast stations."

The state's response shows that in recent months the station's aerials were directed westwards, into Israel, instead of north-south, which should have been the direction for broadcasts aimed solely at settlers within the Territories. The station also operates with a capacity of five kilowatts instead of one kilowatt, as it had committed itself to do. This shows the station operates with a clear and manifest intention to reach the population centers within Israel. In this way it has operated the station since its inception, for a year and a half, and at least until July 15 this year.

Moreover, according to the reports of the governmental inspectors who tried to monitor the activity of the station in July this year (Appendices 6 and 7 to the state's response), the station tried to deny entry to the government inspectors and prevent them from carrying out their monitoring. It also intentionally deceived the inspectors and increased its transmitting power immediately after their departure.

Adv. Gaby Lasky said in the wake of the new findings that "It is striking that, despite the fact that a new regulatory body was established ("Judea and Samaria Second Broadcasting Authority"), whose sole stated purpose is to monitor this particular radio station and enforce its compliance with the franchise, in fact this body fails to properly do its job. It tacitly allows the settler radio to openly and blatantly violate the terms of its license. Just as most of the bodies which are supposed to enforce law and order in the Occupied Territories ignore settler violence against Palestinians and their takeover of private Palestinian land."

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-(0)3-45-2340749, Adv. Gaby Lasky +972-(0)54-4418988

Background information:

The Gush Shalom appeal, asking the Supreme Court to enforce the law on the settler regional radio station "Israel Waves" was filed by Attorneys Gaby Lasky and Neri Ramati on April 2011. In the appeal Gush Shalom asks that the station broadcasts be limited to its concession area, namely the West Bank, and that it cease its illegal broadcasts to Metropolitan Tel Aviv.

This radio station received only a concession to run a regional radio states for the "Jews in Judea and Samaria" – i.e., the settlers. However, unlike other regional radio stations operating within the State of Israel and limited only to one geographic region, there were assigned to the "Israel Waves" station also two other broadcasting frequencies for broadcasting in Metropolitan Tel Aviv and in the south of the country - in stark contrast to the conditions of the franchise and without lawful authority. Its broadcasts are well-received in Metropolitan Tel Aviv, as was proven in a survey commissioned by "Gush Shalom".

Despite multiple requests addressed to the Minister of Communications and the Second Broadcasting Authority, the regulatory bodies did nothing to change the situation, and did not enforce the law or the procedures established by the Ministry of Communications itself.

The appeal argues that in light of the shortage of FM frequencies in this country, the allocation of frequencies to the settler station within Israel violates the principles of equality and free competition. "Allowing broadcasts into Israeli territory also constitutes a clear violation of the rights of other franchise owners who must deal with more competition in their assigned concession areas without having been informed in advance about this additional competitor and without being offered economic compensation for the damage by reduction of their franchise fees. "

Therefore, Gush Shalom asked the court to "put an end to the attempt to establish a countrywide ideological radio station, without a public discussion, and without an explicit authorization by the Legislative Branch, and in blatant disregard and violation of the law."

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-(0)3-45-2340749, Adv. Gaby Lasky +972-(0)54-4418988