Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have instigated a crisis with his largest coalition partner, Israel Beiteinu, Thursday night when he announced that he will oppose the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry committee into left-wing and human rights non-governmental organizations.
Israel Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum initiated the bill using wording taken from a speech by Netanyahu himself. But after a week of controversy over the anti-boycott bill that passed in the Knesset on Monday, the prime minister decided not to support another bill that would have raised the anger of the legal establishment.
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“I do not propose parliamentary commissions of inquiry,” the prime minister told hundreds of Chabad emissaries at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds at a gathering celebrating 20 years of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union (FJC).
“We don’t need investigations in the Knesset.”
Netanyahu then slightly softened his tone, saying he would not force Likud MKs to vote against the bill.
“There are others who don’t agree, so I’ll grant them voting freedom,” he said.
Lieberman said in a Knesset press conference on Wednesday that he would insist on coalition discipline in favor of Kirschenbaum’s bill.
“If there won’t be coalition discipline, we will see it as harming Israel Beiteinu,” Lieberman said. “There has to be the same rules for every party in the coalition. We will make every effort to pass the bill next week.”
Lieberman warned that if coalition discipline was not enforced, his 15-member faction, which is normally the coalition’s most loyal, could feel free to act independently.
His spokesman declined to issue a new statement Thursday night, but there are several bills Netanyahu wants to pass before the Knesset begins its summer recess on August 3 that Lieberman could block if he chooses to wreak havoc in revenge.
“The struggle against organizations that support terror directly or indirectly, and harm IDF soldiers and the state of Israel’s right to defend itself is essential to the continued existence and security of the State of Israel,” Kirschenbaum said.
“It is unfortunate that the heads of Likud are sacrificing essential security interests, their obligation to their voters and their nationalist values in order to find favor with the Leftist media.”
In his speech, the prime minister also reiterated his opposition to a proposal that would initiate hearings for nominees to the Supreme Court and give a Knesset committee veto power over the nominations.
“In a democracy, there is a separation of powers between the legislative and judicial authorities,” he said.
“One of our most basic foundations is the courts and it cannot be harmed. I will defend the court.”
Netanyahu congratulated the FJC and the Chabad movement for their efforts working with the Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union.
“Everywhere in the Soviet Union, there was darkness and you brought light,” he said.
“We are all fighting the same fight and share a joint mission for the sake of the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland. With you, we embrace the communities of the Diaspora all over the world.
We are celebrating tonight the return to Israel of a large tribe [of the Jewish people]. You strengthened it and helped build the State of Israel.”
Present at the celebration was billionaire businessman and president of
the FJC Lev Leviev along with Rabbi Berel Lazar, chief rabbi of Russia.
The FJC administers a number of different funds for its member
communities, dedicated to Jewish community development, rebuilding
communal institutions and creating infrastructure and programs.