The crisis facing several of Israel’s leading news outlets has sparked an impassioned debate within the Jewish state, with some demanding the government act to preserve media diversity while others say there can be no reprieve for losers in times of austerity.On Thursday, after weeks of uncertainty, Maariv, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, was sold to the publisher of a right-wing daily, despite much opposition from staff.Under terms of the $19 million deal, the paper was acquired by the owner of the conservative Makor Rishon newspaper, who has pledged to keep on around 300 of Maariv’s 377 editorial staff, and around 1,400 others.Many of the newspaper’s journalists threatened to go on strike over the deal, fearing for the future of the paper’s editorial line after its sale to Shlomo Ben-Zvi, a West Bank settler who is close to Israel’s nationalist, religious right.A number of Israeli newspapers have folded in recent years as media ownership grows increasingly concentrated, with players like the top-selling Yediot Aharonot and the mass circulation free sheet Israel Hayom crowding out smaller titles.

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