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      Bibi Blinks: Prime Minister to Oppose Commission of Inquiry

      Prime Minister Netanyahu says he will vote against a commission of inquiry into leftist group's funding; Israel has a funding transparency law.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 7/14/2011, 10:37 PM / Last Update: 7/14/2011, 10:43 PM

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) announced Thursday that he would vote against establishing a commission of inquiry into the funding of leftist organizations by the Knesset next week.

      "We do not need investigations in the Knesset, we do not need commissions of inquiry," Netanyahu proclaimed at a conference of Jewish communities from the former Soviet Union and Chabad at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds.

      "There are those who disagree, so I'll give them the freedom to vote. But I will vote against it," Netanyahu added.

      Netanyahu also said he 'would defend the Supreme Court' referring to his intention to oppose a bill proposed by coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) that would give the Knesset oversight over justices and presidents appointed to Israel's High Court of Justice.

      Faina Kirschenbaum, the chairwoman of Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman's Israel is Our Home party, said she intends to propose a the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate the funding of leftist organizations in the plenum next Wednesday.

      Opponents of establishing the commission claim the move smacks of "McCarthyism" and is "anti-democratic" and "an assault on freedom."

      Proponents, however, note the commission will narrowly focus on sources of funding in accordance with Israel's already established funding transparency law requiring nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to disclose funding from foreign governments.

      "The Knesset action reflects a broad understanding that transparency for foreign government funding of political advocacy NGOs transcends partisan ideology, and is essential to the public's right to know and to Israeli democracy," NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg said when the transparency law was passed in February.

      "The new NGO Funding Transparency Law will shed light on the extent of foreign government involvement in Israel, and will demonstrate the failure of existing Israeli law to require funding transparency," he added.

      Danny Danon (Likud) responded to Netanyahu's decision to oppose the bill saying, "The Prime Minister is mistaken about making this difficult decision when it is clearly known that the leftist organization's funding comes from foreign entities who hate the state of Israel.. We should not allow them to continue on this path, which undermines the strength of the State of Israel. "

      "Will insist that this be discussed in the Likud faction," Danon added.