Prime Minister Rejects Probe Into Leftist NGOs, Sparking Crisis With Lieberman

Initiative to set up parliamentary committees to investigate the funding of left-wing human rights groups is unlikely to pass the Knesset vote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he will oppose setting up parliamentary committees to investigate the funding of left-wing human rights groups. This could trigger a coalition crisis as Yisrael Beiteinu seeks to bring precisely such a bill to a Knesset vote next week.

“We don’t need investigations in the Knesset,” Netanyahu said at a conference in Tel Aviv honoring Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. “Some people don’t agree, so I’ll give them freedom to vote as they see fit.”

Netanyahu - Daniel Bar-On - June 29 2011
Daniel Bar-On

Netanyahu’s statement could cause tension with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who started pressing for coalitional coordination in the vote earlier in the week.

“If the coalition does not impose discipline in the vote, we’ll take it as a move against Yisrael Beiteinu,” Lieberman said on Wednesday. “They imposed discipline for the Boycott Law [vote], it should be the same for a parliamentary inquiry committee.”

The passing of the Boycott Law by the Knesset earlier this week prompted right-wing legislators to revive the initiative for parliamentary inquiry into human rights groups. Lieberman said on Tuesday he would bring the bill on the parliamentary committees for a Knesset vote next week.

Now the initiative is unlikely to pass the Knesset vote because a majority of Knesset members appear set to vote against it.

Lieberman said Wednesday that his party is no longer bound to coalition discipline, after the Atzmaut faction was absent from the Boycott Law vote.

Yisrael Beiteinu may now vote against the coalition in a number of upcoming controversial votes. Its members are expected to vote against ultra-Orthodox parties’ position on stricter conditions for exempting young women from military service.

“It’s regrettable the Likud leaders are sacrificing vital security interests, their commitment to the voter and national values to appease the media and leftist groups,” said MK Fania Kirshenbaum ‏(Yisrael Beiteinu‏), who co-sponsored the bill for parliamentary inquiry committees.

A Yisrael Beiteinu source said: “Our party will not take Netanyahu’s statement lying down. The party’s reaction is a matter of days [away].”

Yisrael Beiteinu MK Moshe Matalon hinted at his party’s response, saying, “Coalition discipline is a two-way street. Yisrael Beiteinu may demand freedom to vote as it sees fit on various matters, such as stricter terms for exempting women from military service.”
Knesset sources told Haaretz the initiative was being revived due to a fight for prestige between Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud, following Likud’s success in passing the Boycott Law.