Members of six different Knesset parties have backed legislation designed to limit the influence of Yisrael Ha’yom, the free daily newspaper financed by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson which supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the seven years since it began being distributed for free, the paper has become the country’s most widely-read, eclipsing tabloid Yediot Ahronot.
It has savaged Mr Netanyahu’s rivals while aggressively backing his policies and defending him and his wife from criticism. Yisrael Ha’yom does not seek to make a profit, instead employing a full roster of correspondents, columnists and editors on a rumoured budget — supplemented by its owner — of £10 million. This has led to accusations of unfair competition and indirect political funding.
The proposed law would require any newspaper appearing six days a week for free — a criterion that currently fits only Yisrael Ha’yom — to charge readers at least 70 per cent the price of its closest competitor, blunting the publication’s appeal.