MK Danny Danon (Likud) promised Monday that he would fight attempts to derail
the vote on his proposal to establish a parliamentary investigative committee
probing left-wing NGOs, hours after he and fellow Likud MK Yariv Levin submitted
a bill seeking to further limit the activities of such
Danon, one of two MKs who pushed for parliamentary
committees of inquiry into NGO activities earlier this Knesset session,
criticized the lack of progress on his proposal.
If approved by the
Knesset plenum, Danon’s committee would probe “the involvement of foreign bodies
and states in funding activities against the state and attempting to acquire its
land,” and a second probe – advanced together with Danon’s and pushed by Faina
Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) – would investigate “overseas funds and states
funding Israeli organizations that participate in the delegitimization of IDF
According to Danon, he raised the subject of the probes during
the weekly meeting of the Knesset plenum’s steering committee.
asked why the two proposals had disappeared from the plenum’s agenda, he was
told that the two probes would only be returned to the plenum for their final
vote in accordance with a decision by the House Committee.
(Labor) told Danon in response that “this isn’t a stall in the market – go talk
to [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, because he was the one who pulled the
probes from the agenda.”
Danon said that in protest of the lack of
movement on his initiative, he left the meeting.
House Committee Chairman
Levin, Danon’s cosponsor of the new legislation, reportedly told Danon that he
does not want to bring the proposals up for a vote, and would rather wait until
there is a “general agreement” on the establishment of the probes.
probes initially passed their first vote on the Knesset floor, as well as a vote
in the House Committee, by a large majority. But after a number of prominent
Likud representatives voiced their opposition to the inquiries, support for the
probes eroded and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu granted faction members
freedom from faction discipline on any floor vote on the probes.
the probes were placed on the plenum’s itinerary for final approval, but were
removed at the last minute. The first time, the vote was delayed with the
explanation that a number of MKs were missing, in Washington attending JStreet’s
annual conference; and the second time, it was delayed so that MKs could attend
a memorial ceremony for one of the police officers killed in the Carmel forest
Danon said that he will work to ensure that his probe will either
be brought to the plenum floor for a final vote or be brought back to the House
Committee for a second procedural vote early in the Knesset’s summer session. In
such a vote, Israel Beiteinu, which has never officially rescinded its support
for the establishment of the probes, will be forced to take a clear position,
voting for or against the inquiries.
Danon also will not rule out the
possibility of appealing to the Supreme Court in an effort to force the Knesset
to continue with the administrative process that it began by either establishing
or rejecting the controversial probes.
The new bill submitted to the
Knesset on Monday by Danon and Levin aims to limit international NGOs from
filing petitions to the High Court of Justice.
According to Danon, the
bill aims to “prevent the noticeable affect that High Court verdicts, based on
petitions of organizations that have no direct interest in affairs, have on the
policies of the government and the Knesset.”
The MKs proposed an
amendment to the Basic Law on the Judiciary, establishing that the High Court
only hear petitions in cases when the petitioning organization is registered in
Israel and runs most of its activities here. The bill also proposes that a
foreign organization be prohibited from filing a petition parallel to one
submitted by a directly injured party and be forbidden to file petitions on
issues that are of a clear public nature.
The bill proposes that foreign
NGOs which petition the court provide it with its donors list from the past
three years. According to the bill, NGOs will be required to identify the source
of the donation, its amount and its purpose.
In a press statement, Danon
and Levin explain that the purpose of the new bill is to provide an alternative
to Danon’s failed parliamentary inquiry commission, which sought to probe
organizations that receive money from foreign countries in order to purchase
lands in Israel.
“In recent years there has been widespread use of public
petitions to the High Court against administrative or governmental decisions,”
wrote the legislators in the bill’s explanatory notes.
information is brought before the judges, they will be able to make sure that no
foreign interests enter the gates of justice disguised as public interest
In the press release published by Danon’s office, the MKs
openly state that they know that the proposal will anger and upset left-wing
organizations, but that the proposition came to replace the commission that was
torpedoed by the left.
Gilad Kariv, director of the Israel Religious
Action Center, the legal arm of the Reform movement, characterized the bill as
both misguided and foolish and said that it would primarily harm IDF soldiers
and officers who, as a result, would face trials in international
“Any attempt to reduce the right of petition to the High Court
is both an injury to the democratic principles of the state and a foolhardy step
that will present Israel as a country afraid to see justice through in the
courts,” said Kariv. “The bill expresses lack of faith and disregard of the
Israeli courts, showcasing the High Court as a body incapable of loyally
protecting Israel’s interests.”
Kariv said the bill endangered IDF
officers and Israeli emissaries abroad by subjecting them to prosecution in the
“It is a shame that MKs are competing over who can
produce the most anti-democratic legislation, which in the end will harm Israeli
soldiers and emissaries,” Kariv said.
“One of Israel’s greatest strengths
is its Supreme Court, which earns us praise and recognition in the eyes of the
world. Harming it is cutting the branch we all sit on. I hope that the Justice
Ministry, the IDF Attorney’s Office and the Foreign Ministry will present their
positions against this bill before it is passed,” said Kariv.