Thursday October 8, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Bill establishing committees to probe leftist NGOs unlikely to pass
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Dan Margalit

A resounding "nay" is in order

We must repair the breach and reassert Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East.

The spree of troubling legislation sponsored by nationalist faction Yisrael Beitenu and MKs Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin has now had an effect among coalition members and also beyond Israel's shores.

By lashing out against the 'boycott law', a New York Times editorial has compromised the diplomatic footing that was Israel's fortified wall against its enemies. The most important newspaper in the world has now begun noticing blemishes on the Jewish state's democracy - both in the boycott law and in the threat on the Israeli Supreme Court.

This situation, which has been hurting U.S. Jews as well, has generated a coalition within a coalition, an ad-hoc alliance. Those who have been raised on the liberal values of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin and who fully grasp the political implications of the laws - not just their language but their perception in world opinion - have joined forces to undo the damage.

But this goes even beyond Likud's core. This bloc was bolstered when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will not endorse a bill that would have High Court of Justice judges report to a tribunal of Knesset members, or involve McCarthyesque parliamentary investigative committees.

Now we have even coalition back-benchers rising up. For example, MK Dr. Einat Wilf (Independence), who has experience in foreign relations, scrambled on Tuesday to find a face-saving solution for the various groups of the coalition by watering down the boycott law. She introduced a rather interesting proposition, which would allow advocating boycott as part of free speech, but will allow charges to be pressed against those who violate contracts and agreements signed with manufacturers in the territories. Have your cake and it eat too. A temporary makeshift solution.

But today's test is where the rubber meets the road. It hinges on the degree to which Yisrael Beitenu's MK Fania Kirshenbaum is determined to have a vote on setting-up investigative committees and on how successful this vote is. Figures such as ministers Michael Eitan, Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, Gideon Sa'ar and speaker Reuven Rivlin have had reservations about the boycott bill but some threw their weight behind it as part of the coalition's enforced voting discipline, while others abstained. Now they can voice their opinion. Can they sway the vote?

If PM Netanyahu, who has already declared that he would vote against the investigative committees bill, does some political heavy lifting through persuasion rather than coercion, Israel would have something to show its friends in the world, and particularly to the perplexed U.S. Jewry. What we need is a resounding "nay" for the investigative panel bill in order to repair the breach in the wall and to reassert Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East.

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