The Knesset rejected proposals to form a parliament commission of inquiry on claims by Israelis of Ethiopian descent of discrimination, racism and violence against them by a narrow margin Wednesday.
The two proposals by MKs Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) and Dov Henin (Joint List) were voted down 46-48 and 44-48, respectively. The coalition was able to win the first vote by relying on an opposition MK, Sharon Gal of Yisrael Beytenu, who as a rule does not support initiatives by the Left.
Livni, a former immigration and absorption minister, said the coalition's vote against the inquiry is shameful, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only wants photo-ops but not action.
"Whoever votes against this is a partner in discrimination," she said. "The time has come for Israelis of Ethiopian descent stop being ignored citizens. The commission is not against the government, but for Ethiopian-Israelis. It is meant to find solutions more than it is meant to lay blame."
Henin said that Israelis of Ethiopian descent must be heard in the Knesset, and a commission of inquiry is the best way to invite the public, experts, ministers, bureaucrats and police officers to give a complete picture.
"Our goal is to give these people hope that someone is listening to them," he added.