Final vote to set up probes of NGOs is delayed indefinitely

Reduced support for the legislation among Likud ministers and MKs primary reason for delay.

MK Danny Danon 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Danny Danon 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Just one month after it seemed that two parliamentary investigative committees were certain to be established to probe left-wing nongovernmental organizations, the fate of the probes became questionable on Tuesday, after the final vote for their establishment was delayed indefinitely.
Both the bill’s sponsors and Knesset officials agreed that the primary reason for the delay was reduced support for the legislation among Likud ministers and MKs, but one of the probes’ sponsors – Danny Danon (Likud) – promised that he would continue to push for the establishment of the committees.
The final plenum vote on the two probe committees was first slated to be held two weeks ago, and was then delayed until this Wednesday.
But on Monday, Israel Beiteinu announced that faction chairman Robert Ilatov had requested in light of “recent events” to delay the vote on the probe initiated by Faina Kirshenbaum.
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 Kirschenbaum’s would probe “overseas funds and states funding Israeli organizations that participate in the delegitimization of IDF soldiers.”
Danon did not ask to delay voting on his probe, and complained in a letter to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin Tuesday that House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) had no right to officially request the Knesset secretary to remove the two probes from Wednesday’s agenda.
Rivlin, however, maintained that once the probes had passed their final vote in the House Committee, it was Levin, and not Danon, who was authorized to delay voting on the probes. Furthermore, the Knesset secretary emphasized that the probes had not been withdrawn from the plenum, but merely taken off of Wednesday’s agenda.
“It is clear that they simply don’t want to have a vote on the probes,” complained Danon. “There is a fear among Likud MKs that even though they have freedom from coalition discipline during the vote, the public will pay attention to how they vote. They don’t want to lose points among Likud voters for opposing the probes, even if they personally don’t support their establishment.”
Danon did not just point a finger at his fellow Likud members, but also complained that if Israel Beiteinu Chairman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman genuinely wanted to push for the probes, he could do so.
“I don’t see Israel Beiteinu fighting together with me to force a vote on it,” complained Danon, adding that as a member of the Knesset steering committee, he planned to raise the topic for discussion during the panel’s Wednesday session.
“If Israel Beiteinu joins with me tomorrow morning and demands that the vote be held, I don’t see it as being so easy for the coalition leadership to prevent it from being held,” he said.
Danon said that ultimately, he believed that the probes’ opponents within the coalition were trying to delay the vote until after the Knesset returns in May from its Pessah recess. If the vote continued to be delayed, he threatened, he would seek recourse with the Supreme Court.