Israeli broadcast staff protest planned budget cuts

Hundreds of employees of Israel's public broadcaster protested Wednesday in Tel Aviv against a minister's threat to cut funding to its radio and television services, an AFP correspondent said.

"We are all KAN," read placards at the demonstration, referring to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN), as employees were joined at a Tel Aviv theatre by Lior Raz, star of the hit Israeli Netflix series "Fauda".

Israel's new Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi warned earlier this month of potentially hefty budget cuts to KAN.

"There is no place for public broadcasting in Israel," he told an interview with the private Channel 12 television station, adding that he wanted the market to be "opened up to competition".

Karhi has also taken aim at journalists, whom he said "should please the public" rather than working "to please their milieu".

The proposed cuts would lead to KAN's closure "at a time when it has become a true symbol of Israeli quality and creativity", Golan Yochpaz, the network's director, had said on Twitter.

Protests have gained ground in Israel against various reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, which took office in December.

Netanyahu's alliance joins his right-wing Likud with far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

On Tuesday, hundreds of employees of Israel's key high-tech sector demonstrated in Tel Aviv against proposed judicial reforms, including the introduction of a clause allowing parliament to override supreme court rulings with a simple majority vote

On Wednesday, Netanyahu defended the justice reform, telling a news conference "it will strengthen the rule of law" and "restore the balance between the authorities".

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa against Netanyahu's government, which critics say threatens democracy.