Yisrael Beiteinu vows 'revenge' on Netanyahu for opposition to investigating NGOs
Cracks appear in the governing coalition after the prime minister announces he will not enforce party discipline when voting on investigative committees bill.
Members of Yisrael Beiteinu warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that their 'revenge was on its way' after the latter announced that he opposes the establishment of parliamentary committees to investigate human rights organizations.
Contradicting the explicit request of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to enforce coalition discipline for the vote to establish the investigative committees, Netanyahu said on Thursday, "We don't need investigations in the Knesset, we don't need an investigative committee."
Netanyahu added, "There are those that don't agree, and therefore I will grant them the ability to vote freely." In a speech to a conference of Jewish communities in the Former Soviet Union, Netanyahu said he would vote against the proposal. He further added that he would "defend the Supreme Court and protect its power."
Yisrael Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum, who sponsored the bill to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate "organizations that harm the IDF and its soldiers," responded, saying that "the struggle against the organizations that directly or indirectly support terror and harm IDF soldiers and Israel's right to defend itself is necessary for Israel's security and its very existence."
"It's a shame that the heads of Likud sacrifice essential security interests, their obligations to voters, and national values, in order to satisfy the media and leftist groups," she added.
Yisrael Beiteinu MK Moshe Matalon responded to Netanyahu's comments on Thursday night, saying that coalition discipline is a two-way street. He said that in response, Yisrael Beiteinu is liable to demand the ability to vote freely on issues that are important to it, including making the conditions for women to acquire exemptions from the army more strict, and other issues.
Lieberman said on Wednesday, "If the coalition does not decide to apply coalition discipline on the vote to establish the committees, we will view this as an attack on Yisrael Beiteinu. Just as coalition discipline was applied in the case of the Boycott Law, there must be the same procedure concerning the parliamentary investigative committees."
The bill's chances of passing a vote in the Knesset are not high after the prime minister announced that he would release MKs from coalition discipline months ago, when it was revealed that some Likud ministers and members of Knesset do not intend to support it.
Lieberman and Likud MK Danny Danon announced on Tuesday the renewal of the proposal to establish parliamentary committees to investigate human rights organizations in Israel. Knesset sources said on Wednesday that the reason for the renewed efforts to promote the investigative committees bill was 'a battle for prestige' between Yisrael Beiteinu and the Likud in the wake of the passage of the Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin's Boycott Law.
Lieberman threatened that Yisrael Beiteinu would not feel compelled to comply with coalition discipline on laws that it did not agree with from here on out. He made these comments in reaction to the Atzmaut Party's decision to be absent from the Knesset floor during the vote on the Boycott Law.
"The coalition decided on coalition discipline, but there's on faction that decides that it will not obey that discipline. In this situation, the coalition cannot demand of us to be disciplined," said Lieberman. "If someone exempts himself from a law, he needs to realize that there are wide-ranging consequences."
Lieberman's first move following the development was to announce Yisrael Beiteinu's intention to support Kadima MK Dalia Itzik's bill that would maintain the retirement age for women at 62, in opposition to the government's official position.
"We made it very clear that we will object to any change in the retirement age," Lieberman said. "What should have happened first was that the senior coalition partner (Yisrael Beiteinu) should have been consulted before announcing a decision in the matter."
After the foreign minister's announcement, the coalition managers folded and announcement that it would allow a free vote on the bill, which contradicts its own earlier decision.
Although Lieberman was absent for the vote on the Boycott Law Tuesday, but he had supported it. "I had no other choice but to be with the President of Greece during the vote," the foreign minister said. "If I would have been asked to dance the Zorba, I would have done it, at that point. The price was worth it."