Inquiries into left-wing NGOs could violate rights, AG says


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The establishment of panels of inquiry to look into the funding and activities of left-leaning non-governmental organizations could violate basic human rights, Israel’s attorney general said.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein made the statement Sunday in a brief filed with Israel’s Supreme Court in response to a petition asking the court to prevent the establishment of such Knesset inquiry panels.

The Knesset postponed a discussion and vote next week on a bill that would establish two panels to look into the funding sources and activities of left-wing organizations. The postponement came after members of the Likud Party reportedly are reconsidering their support for the bill.

"It is impossible to ignore the chilling effect of such investigative panels, should they be established, on fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of association," Weinstein wrote.

"In contrast to panels set up in the past, these panels seek to deal with what is interpreted as narrowing and limiting fundamental rights of the democratic system of government, including the fundamental right to freedom of expression, freedom of protest and the freedom to organize politically, rights that are at the very heart of a democratic system of government," Weinstein continued,  

Still, Weinstein’s brief asked the court to reject the petition since the final vote has not yet been taken and it is not yet clear that the panels will ever be put into place.

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