Israel responds to Adalah petition: Arabic-language Hala TV allowed to broadcast on Yom Kippur

Broadcast ban violated freedom of expression and religion, press freedom; Israel postponed decision on station's requests to broadcast for more than year until Adalah filed petition.

Israel will allow the Arabic-language Hala television network to broadcast this upcoming Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday when Israeli Hebrew-language television stations go off the air for 24 hours, in accordance with Israeli state broadcasting regulations.


The state responded on Tuesday, 26 September 2017, to a Supreme Court petition filed the day before by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel against Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara and Israel’s Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council.


The state said in response to Adalah’s petition that it also intended to re-examine the ban on television broadcasts during future commemorations of Yom Kippur.


According to Israel’s Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council regulations, stations operating under its authority are currently banned from broadcasting during Yom Kippur.


Starting two weeks prior to Yom Kippur 2016, and throughout the intervening period, Hala TV had appealed to the council and to the Communications Ministry for permission to continue their regular broadcasts during the holiday.


The state, however, repeatedly postponed a decision on Hala TV’s requests – effectively banning the station’s broadcasts last year during Yom Kippur – until Adalah filed its appeal early this week.


Adalah Attorney Mohammad Bassam and Hala TV’s legal advisor attorney Nahshon Axelrad stressed in the Supreme Court petition that the station’s programming is intended for the Arab public and it should therefore be permitted to broadcast during Yom Kippur:


“This is a license to operate a dedicated channel in the Arabic language, intended for the Arab population in Israel, which has no religious, cultural, or social connection to Yom Kippur. This coercion deals a serious blow to freedom of religion.”


The petition also emphasized that shutting down the station on Yom Kippur violated the right to freedom of expression, both of the Arab public and of Hala TV itself:


“A directive ordering a media outlet that broadcasts exclusively to the Arab public in the Arabic language not to broadcast during a Jewish holiday seriously impinges upon the free expression of the Arab public and upon the free expression and journalistic freedom of [Hala TV] and its employees.”



(Photos courtesy of Hala TV)