Avigdor Lieberman 521.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed disappointment on Sunday with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s opposition to an Israel Beiteinu-sponsored bill
that would have initiated a parliamentary inquiry committee that would have
investigated left-wing and other non-governmental organizations.
Netanyahu’s opposition and his decision not to enforce coalition discipline in
the vote, the bill is expected to be defeated by a wide margin on Wednesday.
Lieberman noted that 25 parliamentary inquiry committees had been formed with
the Likud’s support, including seven chaired by Likud MKs and one by Ahmed Tibi
(United Arab List-Ta’al).
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“I deeply respect the prime minister and that’s
why I was so surprised that he suddenly said the Knesset did not need to be an
investigator,” Lieberman told reporters outside Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “Why
is it only the proposal of Israel Beiteinu that the heads of Likud oppose so
fiercely? I think it looks odd. The Likud’s strange stance really bothers me and
We won’t use this to cause a coalition crisis. I see no
reason why this coalition shouldn’t last until 2013, but I certainly will insist
that the heads of Likud display more loyalty and collegiality to their main
Lieberman blasted the left-wing NGOs that he said
cooperated with the Goldstone Commission and have been active in efforts to harm
Israel’s image around the world. He accused the press of improperly explaining
“What I have unfortunately seen over the past few days is an
attempt to delegitimize Israel Beiteinu and our proposal,” Lieberman said. “I
have never seen such a large quantity of lies, defamation, and
distortions. These NGOs are not leftist groups or human-rights
organizations. These are terrorist organizations.”
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organizations that would be investigated by such a committee responded harshly
to Lieberman’s comments.
“If the foreign minister doesn’t file a police
complaint and pass on the information in his possession within 24 hours,
everyone will know that he is a liar and his sole purpose is to incite against
the [NGOs],” said Michael Sfard, legal adviser to NGO Yesh Din.
said Lieberman’s operating methods were “reminiscent of the methods applied by
dark regimes in order to deal with those deemed as government
Netanyahu responded to Lieberman by saying that “Israel is a
democracy that defends itself against attempts to delegitimize it in the
international sphere. This is the reason that we passed the law against
boycotts of the State of Israel and its citizens. I think that it is an
important law. However, we must act systematically and prudently
vis-à-vis the steps that we are taking. Things need to be
corrected. But we must do so methodically and cautiously and in any case
we must protect our system of law and the rule of law, the courts and our
Netanyahu said that by acting in a “restrained”
manner, his government could “prevent the continuation of the delegitimization
campaign that is defaming Israel. We have been, remain and always will be the
only democracy that upholds law and individual rights in the Middle
“I hope, by the way, that perhaps this will change in the future,
but it certainly does not seem so in the present.”
contributed to this report.
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