'NGO transparency is not undemocratic'

Justice Minister Shaked says law forcing transparency on foreign-funded NGOs is democratic, describes diverse issues facing ministry.

Chana Roberts ,

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) discussed Israel's democracy and justice system at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday.

When asked about her greatest achievement, Shaked said the Minister of Justice is "the minister involved in everything."

"I think the justice system today is more diverse," she said. "We are doing a good job in changing all legal statements regarding Judea and Samaria. We are changing them. We are doing hard work to reduce polygamy among the Bedouins [sic] in the south of the country, it's also very important." She also said her ministry was working to do "other social stuff" that is less interesting to the media but equally important.

Regarding her relationship with newly-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Shaked said, the two "have good cooperation, although we think differently on many subjects."

"It's not a secret that I think the Supreme Court is very activist," she said, adding that for this reason, she is currently working on a Basic Law which will define the roles of each body.

Regarding whether the law the foreign-funded NGOs must state where their funding comes from, is undemocratic, Shaked said that in her opinion, "transparency is not against democracy."

She also defended the bill to prevent police from issuing recommendations at the end of an investigation.

"Today, there is an order from the Attorney General that the police not publish their recommendation without his approval," she said. "Even former Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said the police should not publish their decision, because in the vast majority of the cases the prosecution decides to close the case."

Nor does the Nationality Law defining Israel as "a Jewish state with a democratic regime" and legislating Hebrew as the national language violate democratic principles.

"The Nationality Bill is pretty obvious," she said. "Israel is a Jewish and democratic state."

"Those laws will only make Israel a stronger democracy. They won't hurt democratic values."

Though Shaked herself is non-observant, her party - the Jewish Home - is a religious Zionist party. Shaked shows great respect for rabbis and understands religious needs. Despite their lifestyle differences, Shaked said she feels her party is "very open" and that she "feels right at home."

On the issue of current investigations of the prime minisgter and the coalition head, she admitted to "feeling uncomfortable because of the investigations, and also because of the leaks during the investigations. "

Shaked also said that the government should not interfere in business and technology.""The hi-tech in Israel is so successful because the government is not involved in it," she asserted.