Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he would allow members of the Likud Party to vote freely on bills establishing official committees for the investigation of leftist organizations.
Some Likud members were concerned that the decision would prevent the bills from passing, but others demanded a free vote.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is among those who oppose the bills, intended to probe the sources of funding received by some left-wing groups thought to be budgeted by anti-Israel organizations. He demanded that Netanyahu allow members of his party to vote freely on the matter.
In a previous vote freedom was granted to just four Likud members – MKs Reuven Rivlin and Michael Eitan, and Ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin – who opposed the bills. They were criticized by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party proposed one of the bills.
Minister Silvan Shalom joined Sa'ar in demanding to vote freely, and asked why Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin had decided that the Likud must all vote in favor of the bills.
Netanyahu and Sa'ar both stressed that supporting the bills is not part of the coalition agreement.
But the prime minister also expressed discontent with the fact that while in the US every "foreign agent" must be approved to fund non-profit organizations, in Israel the attorney general opposes a probe of organizations receiving foreign funds.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report