Israel’s government on Friday said it will not renew the contract of a company that supplied information to a US TV station in which it was said to be trying to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
The Israeli government, which is also a US ally, announced on Friday that it was pulling out of the $3.6 billion contract with Ketchum, a major news provider, after the media giant complained of its bias and had refused to pay.
The company’s chief executive, David Friedman, told a news conference in Israel that it had failed to “respect Israel’s neutrality and respect the law of the land”.
Ketchum is known for its anti-Israel coverage and has been accused by the US of using a contract with the Israeli government to influence elections in Israel and the US.
On Friday, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told US media outlets that Ketchums decision was a clear message that it would not “accept” the company’s anti-Israeli bias and would withdraw its contract.
The Ketchmum contract was signed in 2015.
The TV station’s contract with Israel ended in 2021.
The announcement came amid an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the Ketchms’ coverage was motivated by political bias, said a US official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Ketchums spokesman David Schleifer told the Jerusalem Post that it has not changed its stance, saying: “Ketchmums news coverage has never been anti-Semitic, and we have never made any claim to be.”
The US Justice Department, which investigates possible bias in US media, has also opened an investigation into the K-Channel contract.
Ketch’s contract was for one year.
A spokeswoman for Ketch, which also runs an online news channel and a news portal, told the Post: “The K- Channel was approached by Ketch after a complaint by the media firm, which was unhappy about the news coverage.”
The company has not been approached by the Justice Department and is fully confident that the investigation will be complete.
“Israel’s Channel 2 News has been under scrutiny in recent weeks for allegedly misleading viewers about its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the Israeli media has called biased.
In December, the broadcaster said it was cancelling a planned interview with former US President Barack Obama and that the company had taken legal action against a former journalist who had allegedly made anti-American remarks.
The American Jewish Committee, a pro-Israel advocacy group, said the decision to pull out of its contract was “shocking” and called on Netanyahu to immediately end the investigation.”
In a time of global concern over anti-Semitism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to punish a reporter with an independent report for criticizing the Israeli Government,” said ADL senior policy analyst Kevin Rosenfeld.
The boycott movement in the US has been a powerful force in Israeli politics and on the US political scene, often opposing US foreign policy.