Attorney-General to Netanyahu: Stop collecting info on left-wing NGOs

"This monitoring and surveillance activity lacks any authority, since the Israeli government doesn't have and never had the authority to monitor the sources of funding of associations."

By AVISHAI GRINZAIG/MAARIV
November 19, 2018 13:10
2 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has instructed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop collecting information from the Internet about Israeli left-wing organizations or their sources of funding. He further stated that any information that has already been stored and collected must be deleted immediately. According to Mandelblit, any gathering of such information must be backed up by a law that authorizes the government to do so, but an inquiry revealed that such authorization does not exist.

Mandelblit's decision comes following an appeal filed by attorney Shahar Ben-Meir against the prime minister.

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Three months ago, the Prime Minister's Office published the following statement: "Following the political efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the EU announced that it would immediately stop funding and engaging with the organization 'The Council for the Defense of Freedoms,' which undermines Israel's right to exist and acts to blacken the country's face in the world."

Netanyahu added, "this is only the beginning. We will continue to act decisively against organizations that delegitimize the State of Israel and seek to blacken the name of the State and the IDF around the world."

Ben-Meir petitioned against Netanyahu's policy, claiming that it breaches freedom of speech of members of the nonprofit organizations, and that this is an administrative act devoid of any authority, standing in contradiction to the principle of the legality of the administration.


According to Ben-Meir, the prime minister has no authority to act in his official position and through government officials to stop funding or gather information about left-wing organizations.

Furthermore, the mere referral to external bodies in connection with the funding of nonprofit organizations also indicates that government agencies in Israel are tracking and investigation those organizations. According to Ben-Meir, "this monitoring and surveillance activity lacks any authority, since the Israeli government doesn't have and never had the authority to monitor the sources of funding of associations or of its citizens, except in cases prescribed by law."

Ben-Meir also claimed that the prime minister has no authority to appeal to outside parties in connection with the funding of nonprofit organizations, not even the Registrar of Associations.

"In simpler and clearer words, the actions of the prime and foreign minister, as described in this petition, are 'the crooked man does as he pleases', contrary to basic principles of the administrative law in effect in the State of Israel," Ben-Meir said. "The prime and foreign ministers may, as political persons, share or oppose - politically - to opinions or actions of any NGO. But they are not entitled and are not authorized to meddle their political views in their state functions and act in the light of political opinions in the absence of any authority. "

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