Knesset Nears Final Hurdle in Forming Panels of Inquiry Into Left-wing NGOs

Motion approved by Knesset House Committee, now faces plenum vote; if it receives that final approve, the two panels will be headed by architects of the the proposals - MKs Danny Danon and Faina Kirshenbaum.

The Knesset House Committee on Wednesday approved the composition of two parliamentary panels to investigate the funding sources of human rights organizations.

Most of the opposition parties have decided to boycott the committees. The motion passed at the House Committee by a majority vote of 10-7.

Likud MK Danny Danon
Emil Salman

The House Committee approved a motion for the first panel to be chaired by MK Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu ), who proposed its establishment.

Her proposal calls for the panel to examine financial support by foreign governments and organizations for "Israeli organizations taking part in the campaign of delegitimization against Israel Defense Forces soldiers."

The second committee will also be chaired by its architect, in this case MK Danny Danon (Likud ). He described its mission as "investigating the involvement of foreign governments and organizations in supporting activities against the state and attempts at the organized acquisition of state land."

Likud imposed party discipline on its MKs to facilitate approval for the panels' establishment by the Knesset plenum. Coalition whip MK Zeev Elkin (Likud ) said he would exempt Likud ministers and MKs Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, from party discipline in the vote.

Kadima, for its part, announced that it would also enforce party discipline in the vote to create the panels: Its MKs were instructed to vote against the committees, even though three Kadima MKs voted in favor in a previous plenum vote.

The committees will not be empowered to subpoena individuals from nongovernmental organizations, but governmental organizations can be required to send representatives to the sessions.

While the Knesset plenum must approve the final composition of the panels, several names have been put forth by some of the participating parties. For Kirshenbaum's committee, these were MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), Avraham Michaeli (Shas ) and Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism ). Danon's committee is to include, pending the plenum vote, MKs Michael Ben Ari and and Aryeh Eldad (National Union ), Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu ) and Nissim Zeev (Shas ).

Meanwhile, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will prepare Wednesday for its second and third Knesset readings a controversial a bill requiring charities and NGOs to disclose any foreign funding they receive. The draft law was proposed by Elkin and Rotem.