After a stormy session Wednesday afternoon, the Knesset voted by a 41-17 margin to establish a parliamentary investigative committee to look into the activities and funding of radical left Israeli organizations.
The Knesset House Committee is to decide, in the coming days, the precise composition and authorities of the inquiry board. MK Danny Danon of the Likud will chair the committee.
Many of the organizations to be investigated – B’tselem, MachsomWatch, Adallah, and others – have long been known to be receiving monies from the European Union and/or Arab countries. MK Fania Kirschenbaum (Israel Our Home), who initiated the inquiry, said the groups’ efforts to hamper Israel’s right to defend itself are very grave, and that the Knesset must get to the bottom of the issue.
Knesset Members from the radical-left Meretz party were angered by the vote; MK Nitzan Horowitz has asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to ascertain if the idea is legal. He said the “extreme right” is trying to “silence legitimate criticism.”
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin - a member of the Likud party who is known to be seeking the Presidency - came out against the inquiry committee. “The body responsible for investigating the organizations that collect information on IDF soldiers [for use by Israel’s enemies] is the police and law enforcement agencies,” Rivlin said, “not the Knesset… This will be nothing more than a show trial, since it is known in advance what the majority wants.”
The majority in favor of the inquiry was bolstered by three Knesset Members from Kadima, the largest opposition party: Otniel Shneller, Robert Tibayev, and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovitch. “We must build a democratic and Zionist fence,” Shneller said, “against the use of human-rights claims at the expense of Israeli patriotism. These organizations apparently know why they are hiding the sources of their funding. I don’t know any Western democratic country in the world that would agree to have a foreign country invest hundreds of millions in its territory in order to undermine its values and create a new country.”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), in a closed meeting with supporters, said the groups to be investigated “want no less than to liquidate the Jewish State… They are traitors; nothing less… An IDF general flies to England and can’t get off the plane, because the information provided by these organizations leads the British to issue a warrant for his arrest! … We see how Peace Now has beautiful buildings and cars for low-level clerks; who pays for all this? The enemies of Israel pay for this!... We have Hizbullah, and Hamas, and organizations such as Yesh Gvul and the like; we have to find out about their funding and hit them where it hurts – in their pockets. We must pursue them in all legal ways, and get the Attorney General and Prosecution to investigate them.”