'The Knesset does not have authority to investigate NGOs'

Knesset legal adviser says MKs do not have authority to establish commission of inquiry into foreign funding of NGOs working against IDF.

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Hezki Baruch,

Eyal Yinon
Eyal Yinon
Yitzhak Harari, Flash 90

The Knesset's legal advisor, attorney Eyal Yinon, stated his opinion that Knesset members have no authority to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the funding of foreign countries for Israeli organizations that operate against IDF soldiers.

Yinon referred to the proposal raised at a meeting of the heads of coalition parties that was approved, according to which the Knesset will propose a parliamentary commission of inquiry on "funding of foreign countries for Israeli organizations that operate against IDF soldiers."

He revealed that he was asked whether the Knesset has the authority to establish a committee on this issue, and clarified that his answer was in the negative.

The first reason cited by the Knesset's legal advisor is that such an investigative committee should be representative of the opposition factions in numbers proportional to the balance of power in the Knesset.

He added that after the desire to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the conduct of the financial system, it was agreed that the subject of the investigation and the authority that the committee has should be examined.

"After examining the matter, I believe that the issue in question can not be of interest to a parliamentary investigation, and that as far as limiting the possibility of nonprofit organizations being funded by foreign countries for activities that express criticism of IDF soldiers, this should be done through primary legislation,” Yinon said.

He added that "Of course, such legislation is also subject to constitutional review insofar as the violation of basic rights is involved, but it doesn’t raise the question of authority, as does the proposal to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry on the matter.”

According to attorney Yinon, "Parliamentary investigation of civilian organizations on ideological grounds is contrary to basic government principles."

He also noted that "a parliamentary commission of inquiry is not the proper tool for conducting an investigation into ideological matters, for which other parliamentary tools are used."

He added that "In recent years, a number of legislative initiatives have been enacted in the Knesset aimed at prohibiting or restricting the receipt of donations to nonprofit organizations by foreign organizations and governments, but in the end, after the matters were considered, only a comprehensive arrangement for reporting obligations and transparency was established which doesn’t place any limitation on the reception itself of donations to any subject whatsoever ... in these circumstances, in which the current Knesset determined that receiving funding from foreign countries and organizations is permitted, how will this same Knesset turn this issue into a matter that requires parliamentary investigation? "

"My position is that the Knesset does not have the authority to establish a commission of inquiry in this matter, or any commission of inquiry whose purpose, practically speaking, is the ideological investigation of civilian organizations in Israel, whether right-wing or left-wing," concluded the Knesset's legal advisor.








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