Right-wing Group Rates Lawmakers According to Support for Settlements

Mattot Arim is using the report to pressure right-wing MKs to act on behalf of the settlers, implying they would not be elected again if they failed to do so.

A right-wing group has distributed a report among rightist Knesset members rating MKs and ministers based on their assistance to West Bank settlements and right-wing causes in general.

The report, compiled by the NGO Mattot Arim, gives the highest scores to MKs who sponsored right-wing or pro-settlement bills, lobbied for settlements or advanced their causes in the media. Ministers were ranked based on the extent they used their ministries' resources to help the settlers.

Right-wing group - Eretz Israel Lobby - 25112011
Eretz Israel Lobby

Mattot Arim is using the report to pressure right-wing MKs to act on behalf of the settlers, implying they would not be elected again if they failed to do so. The report, which lauds politicians who scored well, calls itself a tool "to reward elected officials who truly represent their constituency."

Published every six months, the report breaks down the legislative, lobbying and media activity of the MKs and ministers - whether, for example, in media interviews or in bills preventing the boycott of products made in the settlements. The report has been coming out for four years now.

Ministers are praised for using their ministries' resources for efforts such as improving the Internet and cellphone networks in the West Bank.

The report's introduction says "the Mattot Arim movement noticed a few years ago that MKs of the national camp were not serving their voters well .... Some ministers and MKs 'rested' for most of their term, going into action at best only near election time, after they had squandered 75 percent of their/our term."

The report lists 100 parliamentary achievements attributed to the various MKs from January to June 2011, revealing the often unpublicized activities taking place on the ground to advance West Bank settlements and right-wing issues.

For example, the report says the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the transfer of NIS 10 million to emergency services in the West Bank, and the Finance Committee allocated NIS 2 million to improve cellphone reception.

The report says lawmakers were instrumental in amending laws to help buy weapons for self defense, while weapons that had been confiscated from settlers were returned.

The relevant ministries acted to overcome radio interference from the Palestinian Authority and to set up permanent transmission sites for regional radio stations.

Politicians were also instrumental in providing full coverage for digital television in the West Bank, and more than half the settlements have been plugged into Bezeq's advanced Internet networks. Meanwhile, the Israel Postal Company has launched new bullet-proof delivery vehicles that allow for regular service to threatened settlements.

The report does not cite bills that did not pass in the Knesset, only those that passed or are close to being enacted.

Mattot Arim spokeswoman Susie Dym told Haaretz the report was not distributed to the media because it was not "meant for Haaretz readers or any other media, but for our own activists."

The organization got started in 1992 as a way to provide information to right-wing activists.

The following 10 MKs scored highest based on "activity of a nationalist character" - the number in parentheses denotes the number of "national" activities: Uri Ariel (National Union, 46 ), Zeev Elkin (Likud, 34 ), Yariv Levin (Likud, 27 ), Aryeh Eldad (National Union, 24 ), Moshe Ya'alon (Likud, 18 ), Danny Danon (Likud, 15 ), Moshe Kahlon (Likud, 14 ), Michael Ben-Ari (National Union, 13 ), Benny Begin (Likud, 13 ) and Tzipi Hotovely (Likud, 13 ).

One of the most prominent promoters of right-wing legislation, Yisrael Beiteinu's David Rotem, is responsible for only 10 "national" activities. Rotem is also chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud ), who recently criticized some of the more controversial right-wing bills, is responsible for nine such activities. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu ) is behind only five and Improvement of Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud ) none.

The report says ministers Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu ) and Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi ) ordered the Israel Electric Corporation, the Mekorot water company, the Science and Technology Ministry and other government agencies to sever contacts with Israeli companies that have boycotted settlement products.

A number of parliamentary aides said Mattot Arim persistently contacts right-wing MKs, asking for activity reports on the advancement of right-wing causes.

"I regularly provide information upon their request," said an aide to one MK mentioned in the report. "It's important for us that our public knows about our activity."

But another Knesset aide said his team had "decided not to cooperate with this report. It's not that important as far as we're concerned and requires too much work, as indicated by the low score we received in the current report."