(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he opposes a proposal for parliamentary investigations of Israeli groups critical of the country’s policies toward the Palestinians.
“We don’t need investigations in the Knesset,” Netanyahu said Thursday night, speaking in Tel Aviv at a gathering honoring the work of a Chabad-affiliated federation of Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union.
However, the Israeli leader said he would not require members of his Likud Party to vote with him on the issue.
Members of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, which is behind the push for the establishment of Knesset investigative commissions and is a member of the governing coalition, responded with anger to Netanyahu’s remarks.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu said his party expected the other parties in the governing coalition to require their members to support the bill. Lieberman warned that if coalition discipline is not enforced on this legislation, his party would not be obligated to vote with the coalition in the future.
"The struggle against the organizations that directly or indirectly support terror and harm IDF soldiers and Israel’s right to defend itself is necessary for Israel’s security and its very existence," said the bill’s sponsor, Knesset member Faina Kirschenbaum of Yisrael Beiteinu. "It’s a shame that the heads of Likud sacrifice essential security interests, their obligations to voters, and national values, in order to satisfy the media and leftist groups," she added, according to Haaretz.
The fight over the parliamentary inquiries comes fast on the heels of the Knesset’s passage of a controversial anti-boycott law that sanctions those who boycott Israel or West Bank settlements. That law, which Netanyahu said he supports, has been decried as anti-democratic by opposition parties, left-wing NGOs and civil rights groups in Israel. It also has been criticized by Jewish groups in the United States.
At the Thursday event, Netanyahu also said he opposes a proposal to allow a Knesset committee to veto appointments to the Israeli Supreme Court.
"One of our most basic foundations is the courts and it cannot be harmed," Netanyahu said, according to The Jerusalem Post. "I will defend the court.”