Middle East

Israeli MPs reject bill to probe left-wing NGOs

Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset, 27 December
Image caption The bill was proposed by the hardline party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

The Israeli parliament has rejected a bill that would have set up committees to investigate human rights groups accused of "anti-Israeli" activity.

It was sponsored by the hardline party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but was rejected by a vote of 57 to 28.

It had been expected to fail after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not support it.

The vote came days after another contentious bill banning boycotts of Israeli settlement activity was passed.

'Evil initiative'

The rejected draft law had called for the establishment of parliamentary inquiry committees to investigate foreign funding of left-wing non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

MK Fania Kirshenbaum - of Mr Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party - introduced the bill to the Knesset.

She accused some NGOs of contributing to the "ongoing delegitimisation of Israel", primarily by helping foreign efforts to charge its soldiers with war crimes.

Mr Lieberman has branded as "terror organisations" groups such as Adalah, which lobbies for Palestinian legal rights, and Breaking the Silence, which encourages Israeli soldiers to speak out about abuses committed inside the Palestinian territories.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni roundly condemned the initiative: "This evil initiative, with its anti-democratic message, harms the democracy of the State of Israel," she was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had also opposed the bill, saying any allegations of improper behaviour by the rights groups should be investigated by the police, and not parliament.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites