Knesset votes against proposed legislation to probe NGOs

Two bills submitted by MKs Danon and Kirschenbaum to probe activities and funding of left-wing NGOs turned down; results of vote come after day-long discussion in Knesset; Lieberman: We will try again next week.

July 20, 2011 21:59
3 minute read.
The Knesset adjourning for its spring break.

Knesset session 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The Knesset on Wednesday voted against one of two proposed bills to establish a commission of inquiry into the activities and funding of left-wing NGOs.

A vote in the Knesset was held over two bills. One, submitted by Israel Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum, would probe the damage done by the NGOs to the IDF. The second, sponsored by Likud MK Danny Danon, would investigate the contributions the NGOs received from foreign countries.

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On Danon's bill, 57 MKs voted against the legislation and 28 voted in favor.

Among MKs who voted in favor were Arye Eldad, Ze'ev Elkin, Michael Ben-Ari, and Danny Danon.

Those who voted against the legislation included Reuven Rivlin, Shlomo Molla, Shaul Mofaz, Tzipi Livni, and Taleb a-Sanna.

On Kirschenbaum's bill, 57 voted against with 28 voting in favor.

Earlier Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented on the Knesset vote over the controversial legislation, saying, "I have no doubt that we will win, and if we do not succeed today then we will try again next week, and in the session after that."

"We are not willing to crumble under pressure from the media or from international sources," he said.

"Lieberman also said that the proposal of the legislation was "a double win," first because the subject was placed firmly on the public agenda, and second because other members of the coalition are agreeing with Israel Beiteinu.

During the Knesset discussion preceding the vote, MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al) said that when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman talks about a commission of inquiry into left-wing NGOs, he means "dungeons of inquiry."

The MK was speaking at a Knesset session to vote on proposed legislation to establish commissions of inquiry into the activities and funding of left-wing organizations.

Criticizing the bill and its proponents, Tibi said that the Knesset continued to follow in the path of "McCarthyism" and accused the right of leading the country "from one low point to another and from bad to worse."

He further accused the right of figuratively "assassinating the prime minister" and planning to "assassinate a Supreme Court Judge."

Speaking before Tibi, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said the proposed legislation is " a cowardly act," adding, "What is happening here today will be a trigger for those who do not accept the state of Israel."

"This [law] will balance the delegitimization," Livni said.

"Those who vote in favor of this law will become voters against Israel. The evil spirits that have filled the Knesset are anti-democratic and violate the interests of the state of Israel," she added.

"This idea came about as a way to probe citizens who do not think like you," the opposition leader said referring to the the proponents of the bill.

Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, also speaking out against the bills, accused Lieberman of being "the main figure to deligitimize Israel" through his criticism of NGOs such as Yesh Din.

Kirschenbaum, who first submitted the proposal for the probe into left-wing NGOs, defended the bill saying, "This is a fight for the image of the country."

Labor MK Raleb Majadele used the podium to criticize what he called the "poor treatment" of the country's minorities.

"If you don't care for the minority, the world will judge you," he said noting how haredim "are paid to pray, while I, who prays five times a day, get nothing."

The Labor MK called on other MKs to "climb down from your tree, take care of Israeli society, and stop inciting the minority."

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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