There is an election process underway in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a campaign stop this past week - in Washington, DC.

Israel has very, very strict campaign laws ... the amount of money that anybody can donate to a politician is so severely limited ... So establishing a newspaper has a significant impact on how people think about current events. 

Lisa Goldman, +972 magazine correspondent

Ostensibly, Netanyahu's address to Congress was about Iran and the nuclear issue - but the speech was seen as electioneering, with the republicans in control of Congress gifting Netanyahu a platform and some valuable face time.

The way the speech was covered by Israeli newspapers typifies the media divide in Israel that is also a big part of the election story.

Yediot Ahronoth used to be the most widely read paper in the country. Its owner, Arnon Moses, was considered a centrist, until about the time Israel Hayom hit the newsstands.

It is owned by an American billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, an unabashed supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Israel Hayom is a free paper. You can even have it delivered to your doorstep, for free.

Which is why it is now the most widely read newspaper in Israel. Israel Hayom is now so widely circulated, so influential that the paper became the target of new piece of legislation that went before the Knesset a few months back.

That law, if it had passed, would have made it illegal in Israel to distribute a loss-making newspaper for free. The idea being to prevent wealthy people like Sheldon Adelson from wielding too much influence in a democracy.

However, the new law never made it through the Knesset, because before it was passed, Netanyahu called the election.

The so-called Israel Hayom law was put on hold, and Israelis are now ten days away from a vote that will determine the future of their leadership and the shape of their news media. 

Source: Al Jazeera