Peace Now Condemns Investigation of Peace Organizations by Knesset

February 2, 2011 | Peace Now Condemns Establishment of Knesset Committees to Investigate Israeli Human Rights and Peace Organizations.

Winning a majority of votes from Right-Wing MKs, the Knesset approved the creation of two committees to oversee an investigation of funding sources of human right and peace organizations.

The actual creation of these two committees is dependent on a vote in the Knesset plenary which will most likely take place next week.

Knesset Members that are pushing for the creation of these committees are focusing on a few main issues:

1. Supposed actions against IDF soldiers by these organizations
2. Reports against the actions of the IDF in the territories
3. Filing of complaints against IDF soldiers overseas.

Meanwhile the committees will also be investigating the involvement of Israeli organizations in the formulating of public opinion in Israel, the receipt of foreign funding and purchasing land (supposedly with foreign funds) for various Arab beneficiaries.

According to the law the Knesset has the authority to create Parliamentary Investigative Committees. Originally, the intention of this tool was to investigate the behavior of the government and of governmental authorities; therefore the committee has no legal authority or ability to call on private citizens to testify, it may only call on government workers.

Yesterday, the Knesset Legal Advisor fiercely criticized the idea of using the investigatory committee against civil organizations and said that while, formally it is allowed, the creation of such a committee poses serious threats to the freedom of speech in Israel.

Members of Knesset from Kadima, Kabor, Meretz, Hadash and the Arab parties announced that they would boycott the committee. Several Ministers from the Likud including Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, the Speaker of the Knesset himself opposed the formulation of these committees and yesterday spoke out against this initiative.

The creation of these Committees symbolizes a new low in the attempts of right-wing elected officials to de-legitimize and limit the freedom of speech of Peace and Human Rights organizations.

Meanwhile these initiatives have united the various factions of the left, creating a new energy of activists and politicians – all who are now standing up and speaking out against the new political and civil reality being created by Netanyahu and Lieberman.