Lieberman - Reuters - 18072011
Avigdor Lieberman speaking to reporters Sunday. Photo by Reuters
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud ministers for their opposition to a bill calling for parliamentary investigations into left-wing organizations. Speaking during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Lieberman said the bodies slated for investigation were not left-wing groups but terror organizations.

Netanyahu countered Lieberman’s attack by telling the ministers that Israel had to use caution in such matters.

Lieberman said the committees of inquiry that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, wanted to establish, would not investigate human rights groups, but groups that he said delegitimize Israel and abet terror, especially those that helped the Goldstone Committee investigating the 2008 incursion into Gaza.

Lieberman enumerated the organizations he wanted to see investigated. They included the Arab legal-aid center, Adalah, the Yesh Din human rights group, Breaking the Silence, a group established by Israel Defense Force veterans to provide testimony about military service in the occupied territories, and the conscientious objectors’ group, New Profile.

“These groups submitted 90 percent of the skewed and false information to the Goldstone Commission. They are the same groups and the same people that were on the Mavi Marmara and prevented IDF soldiers from defending Israel,” Lieberman said, referring to the ship leading the flotilla to Gaza in late May 2010.

“These are organizations that... go from one school to the other and incite the students against serving in the army. This is, therefore, a legitimate initiative of self-defense,” Lieberman said. The bill has little chance of passing in the Knesset after Netanyahu allowed faction members to vote their conscience.

Lieberman said his party would not spark a coalition crisis over the matter, but called for “loyalty to a senior coalition partner.”

Netanyahu told the cabinet that the law was important but that “we have to act cautiously and wisely... and prevent further delegitimization of Israel.”

Netanyahu also said Israel would “continue to be the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Haggai Elad, director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, said: “It’s a pity Lieberman doesn’t know the official documents in which the Foreign Ministry reports proudly on the important work of human rights groups in Israel.”

Hassan Jabarin, director of Adalah, said Lieberman was “continuing to spread lies and incite against human rights groups working within the law and with full transparency.”