Netanyahu loses fight over NGO money probe vote

PM wanted top Likud lawmakers who opposed initiating a parliamentary probe to be able to vote their consciences against the proposal.

January 25, 2011 03:56
1 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to Likud Party members.

Netanyahu Likud 311. (photo credit: AP)

The Likud faction rejected a request from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday not to impose faction discipline in an upcoming vote to investigate the funding given by foreign governments to Israeli NGOs that allegedly work against the state.

Netanyahu wanted top Likud lawmakers who opposed initiating a parliamentary probe to be able to vote their consciences against the proposal sponsored by Likud MK Danny Danon. But Danon garnered a 9-8 majority vote against the prime minister.

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“The Likud stood up for its principles against the foreign bank accounts that finance families of suicide bombers,” Danon said.

Now that Likud MKs will be obligated to vote for the probe, it will be hard to stop it in a vote next week in the Knesset House Committee and in an eventual vote in the plenum. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who vigorously opposes the parliamentary investigation, could hold back its final readings for several weeks.

At an emotionally charged Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu scolded Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor for suggesting that investigating human rights groups would harm Israel’s image internationally.

Netanyahu said the very fact that the investigation would be initiated via a democratic process proved that Israel and the Likud were liberal.

The Knesset Interior Committee will hold deliberations on Tuesday on another controversial piece of legislation that would allow citizenship to be stripped from people convicted of terrorism or espionage offenses.

Rivlin, who opposes that legislation, warned on Monday against bills targeting minorities.

“There is an atmosphere here where the majority feels it can strike at the minority,” Rivlin said in a Knesset speech marking the parliament’s birthday.

“Instead of dealing with what we have in common, the Right and Left focus on igniting and emphasizing conflicts.”

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