The Defense Ministry tried to pressure the Knesset Public Petitions Committee to cancel and change meetings, panel chairwoman Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) said on Wednesday.
“The Defense Ministry outrageously overstepped its powers,” she said. “It cannot tell the Knesset how and when to hold meetings.”
Kol postponed a meeting planned for Wednesday morning about whether soldiers should have a right to privacy even if they are considered the army’s property after the ministry refused to send representatives from the Military Advocate-General’s Office.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s aide Rut Bar wrote to Kol that they need more time to learn about the subject and for Ya’alon to decide how to deal with classified details.
“Matters connected to Military Police investigations are naturally confidential and should not be discussed in this forum, if at all, and should be brought to Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittees,” whose meetings are classified, Bar wrote.
The Yesh Atid lawmaker scheduled the Public Petitions Committee meeting after receiving petitions from soldiers who said their cellphones were confiscated without a warrant in investigations, which Kol called “a blatant violation of their basic rights, which has nothing to do with national security.”
“The Defense Ministry’s attempts to ‘choose’ who will supervise it in the Knesset is opposed to the democratic principle of separation of powers,” she said. “According to Knesset regulations, the Public Petitions Committee has the authority to discuss any issue citizens and NGOs ask it to and summon representatives of government and public institutions to explain themselves.”
Kol pointed out that all Knesset committee chairmen have the authority to call meetings with as little notice as they want.
“It is unimaginable that, in a democratic country with a clear system of separating powers, the IDF can decide it’s not interested in a Knesset committee meeting.
They are cheapening the system. The army is not above the law,” she said.
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