Netanyahu and Kirschenbaum - Salamn - July 20, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum in the Knesset, July 20, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Following a stormy debate, the Knesset voted against a contentious bill on Wednesday which called to set up panels of inquiry into human rights organizations in Israel.

28 Knesset members voted in favor and 57 voted against the two bills calling to set up two parliamentary panels of inquiry into NGOs, proposed by Likud MK Danny Dannon and Yisrael Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum.

The vote came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office had applied pressure on Likud MKs to vote against the bill that was put forth by the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Netanyahu has said he would vote against the bill but even before his announcement it became apparent that most of his Likud cabinet colleagues opposed it.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni was vocal in her condemnation of the proposal Wednesday, saying it damaged Israel's interests.

"A dark wind is blowing through the country - created by Netanyahu's coalition," Livni said during the Knesset debate."Beyond being an anti-democratic [proposal] it also harms the interests of the State of Israel…. The idea that MKs want to investigate citizens who are not party to their views is horrifying."

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) sarcastically praised Lieberman’s initiative for bringing Israel “one step closer to 1984,” suggesting the probe would constitute a Big Brother-like infringement on democratic values. Tibi further stated that “the current Knesset outdoes itself, over and over, in its McCarthyist ways”.

The bill has been harshly condemned by organizations such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has openly refused to participate in any such investigation, and instead will continue to “act firmly in the pursuit of human rights for all.”

Americans for Peace Now also spoke out against the bill, stating that American Jews “must do everything…to stop these appalling attacks on what makes the Jewish state so central to our value-system."

The Yisrael Beiteinu initiative was revived in light of the recent passage of the controversial boycott law, a Likud party proposal, which allows a person or an organization to be sued if they call for the boycott of Israel or the settlements.