Monday, January 24, 2011

Likud party backs Knesset probe of funding of Israeli human rights groups

The Likud faction on Monday decided to support the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry commission into the activity and funding of Israeli left-wing organizations.

The decision passed by a majority of seven to six, which gives the Knesset House Committee the support needed to draft an outline for the move next week.

Following a tense meeting at the Knesset, the faction decided that members Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin will be permitted to vote against the motion once it is brought for a final vote at the Knesset plenum

During the meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scolded Meridor for saying that Likud has become an undemocratic party.

Meridor said Likud was making a mistake by supporting the investigation. "The inquiry commission will be covered by foreign media outlets and cause us harm. The idea of investigating human rights groups will serve those who work to delegitimize Israel.

"A law which obligates (organizations) to submit information regarding their sources of funding already exists. The Shin Bet and police can investigate if a problem arises. The Knesset is not an investigative body," he added.

Netanyahu said in response, "This is a distortion of the truth. We are committed to a democratic and liberal regime, as well as to freedom of speech. This discussion is proof of that."

Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he supports an investigation against leftist groups "particularly because of the involvement of foreign countries in the activity of these organizations in Israel.
"Arab elements and European governments are funding (leftist groups) against Israel's interests. If an organization calls on youngsters not to serve in the IDF and it is funded by European governments – this is not right, and it cannot be presented as freedom of speech".