Another bill initiated by the Likud
's rightist wing is joining a series of 'anti-democratic' proposals which have been sending waves through the Knesset recently: Knesset Members Danny Danon and Yariv Levin are planning to submit a new bill to the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Sunday, which aims to restrict the activities of left-wing organizations.
The proposal seeks to limit the "public petitioners" – associations and bodies submitting petitions against the State despite not having been directly affected by the discussed case.
The Likud MKs are seeking to limit the associations and create a situation in which they will only be able to petition the High Court of Justice together with the direct victims.
In addition, the public petitioner must be an organization operating in Israel, the petition must be "of a constitutional nature relating to the entire public," and the petitioner must present the total sum of donations received in the three years preceding the petition.
Knesset. Another 'anti-democratic' law? (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Left-wing organizations are using the High Court to advance political needs, putting the legal system to shame," Danon argues. He says organizations like Peace Now have been petitioning the court "for no reason and basically harming the rule of law."
The MK is trying to recruit a majority of lawmakers to support the bill before it is discussed by the ministerial committee.
The proposal joins a series of similar bills which have been sending waves through the Knesset – the foreign funding bill, which limits donations from international organizations and foreign countries to Israeli associations, and a bill imposing a 45% taxation rate on all foreign state funding of NGOs.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro met Tuesday with a senior Likud minister and expressed his concern over the foreign funding bill. Shapiro did not specifically ask that the government "bury" the law, but implied that the United States was troubled by the bill and did not approve of it.
Shapiro clarified that should the proposal be adopted, and should his country be asked to present its stand on it, "we will say what we think."
The ambassador expressed his fear that the law would fail to distinguish between social and political organizations. The Israeli minister attempted to ease his fears, promising that the bill's content would be looked into and changed.
Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
appeal, the bill is expected to be slightly softened in order to distinguish between aid organizations and political associations.
Other bills related to the Supreme Court have also sparked a row in recent days, and were even condemned by President Shimon Peres:
A proposal to change the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee, aimed at paving Judge Asher Grunis' way to the Supreme Court presidency, and a bill calling for a public hearing for all Supreme Court candidates, which Netanyahu has promised to shelve in its current format.
Opposition members protested the fact that while these bills are subject to a swift procedure, other proposals are facing bureaucratic hurdles. The delayed bills include supervising parking prices, a hot meal for every school student, public housing for battered women, and helping deprived families enter the labor market.