Peres to Haaretz: Probe of Leftist NGOs Harms Israeli Democracy

Shimon Peres has reportedly told close associates that he is worried about right-wing extremism and about religious extremists' attitude toward Arabs.

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

The establishment of a parliamentary committee to investigate human rights organizations and left-wing groups harms Israeli democracy and is unnecessary, President Shimon Peres told Haaretz on Sunday.

In response to a question from Haaretz, Peres called on the Knesset to reject the proposal to establish the committee and said that in a democracy, there must be a clear division of functions between the various authorities.

Shimon Peres. Credit: AP

"The investigation of organizations, from the left or the right, must be left to law enforcement, which is the expert, objective system and has all the proper investigative tools," Peres said.

The president also quoted Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who said politicians must not be judges and judges must not be politicians.

Peres has reportedly told close associates that he is worried about right-wing extremism and about religious extremists' attitude toward the Arab minority. He said that the Jewish people had suffered from racism more than any other people and therefore the Jewish people in particular should treat non-Jews and minorities living among them fairly.

Peres said he welcomed the recent decision by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to recognize conversions in the Israel Defense Forces. Peres said the decision "strengthens the people of Israel and preserves its unity."

Peres said Yosef's decision "makes it possible to accept into the Jewish people young people who came to live in Israel to preserve their Jewish identity and to serve in the army to protect the nation's security."

Peres was involved behind the scenes with rabbis over the conversion issue, and also met recently with Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and asked for his help in the matter.

The president also responded to many requests for help from soldiers who had undergone conversions in the army. He pledged to support their requests that their conversions be recognized by the authorities.



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