Lieberman to Target Human Rights Groups' Funding After Netanyahu Shelves Bill

Foreign Minister denies reports he threatened coalition over outposts.

The Yisrael Beiteinu Party is acting to push the legislation to limit foreign funding of Israeli human rights organizations, despite the prime minister's decision to freeze two bills to this effect indefinitely.

In another development, Yisrael Beteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman yesterday denied he had threatened to quit the coalition if West Bank outposts were evacuated. He called reports to this effect "mere interpretations."

Lieberman - Fitoussi - Nov 14, 2011
Olivier Fitoussi

Yisrael Beiteinu's Knesset faction said yesterday it would submit its own legislation initiative targeting human rights organizations to the Knesset for preliminary reading, although the cabinet hasn't yet decided whether or not to support it.

The bill, sponsored by MK Faina Kirshenbaum, would slap a 45 percent tax on foreign governments' donations to NGOs ineligible for state funding.

Sources in Yisrael Beiteinu said the move is intended to spur Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change his position and continue the legislation on the bills targeting the NGOs already in the next cabinet session.

Netanyahu decided last week to stall the parliamentary process to ratify the bills aimed at capping foreign governments' contributions to "political" NGOs. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation had approved the bills, sponsored by Likud MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Ofir Akunis, a week earlier.

Even if the cabinet does not decide on the issue, Yisrael Beiteinu sources said they would raise a majority for Kirshenbaum's bill in a preliminary Knesset reading.

Kirshenbaum twisted the cabinet's arm on supporting a bill in June, when she mobilized the opposition to support a proposal to help divorced women collect alimony. The coalition had not decided whether to support the bill or not.

When the coalition leaders realized Kirshenbaum's bill would pass in the Knesset with the opposition's support, they allowed their members to vote as they saw fit. Consequently, the bill passed, with the support of 48 MKs and the objection of two.

In an interview to Israel Radio yesterday Lieberman said most of the outposts classified as "unauthorized" had been built by the state, which had authorized and approved their construction.

He said a solution for the outposts could be found, provided both sides display goodwill.

Despite Lieberman's stern statements about the outposts at his faction meeting on Monday, senior coalition sources said afterward he had no interest in withdrawing from the government at this point and there was no threat to its stability.

Minister Michael Eitan (Likud ) yesterday accused Lieberman of "threatening with an unloaded gun."

Eitan said Lieberman's statements imply the cabinet must decide whether to keep him in the coalition or go against the rule of law. "It's not respectable to make such threats every now and then," Eitan said.

MK Arye Eldad (National Union ) also blasted Lieberman. "After Lieberman announced he will quit the government if they dismantle Migron or Givat Asaf, he began to zigzag and is already denying what he said. Lieberman is a man of his word. The question is, which of his words should we believe?" Eldad said.