Faced with growing domestic criticism from left wing human rights groups, the far-right Israeli coalition government today pushed through the creation of a parliamentary panel of inquiry that will “probe” such organizations on a number of fronts.
The effort, which was introduced by the Yisrael Beiteinu Party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, aims primarily at groups critical of Israel’s foreign policy and assorted wars. According to MP Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu), the groups are to blame for growing international criticism of the far right government.
The vote passed 41-16 after voiciferous debate, which included MPs accusing the groups of “terror links” for criticizing Israeli wars and at least one insisting that the organizations are encouraging draft resistance because they “do not really care about the state of human rights.”
Members of the targeted groups, including Peace Now and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel condemned the announcement, saying it would do serious damage to freedom of speech within Israel. One dissenting member of the ruling coalition, Minister Herzog (Labor), condemned the probe, warning it would damage Israel’s international standing to be seen so overtly stifling dissent.