‘Evil spirit’ sweeps over Israel, warns opposition leader

Israel’s opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, on Monday said a wave of evil was sweeping the country, characterised by legislation to investigate the funding of civil and human rights organisations.

Her party, Kadima, would oppose the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into groups such as B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights, she said. Her comments followed an attack by the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose party sponsored the Bill, on right-wing opponents of the measure. He said they had “bleeding hearts” and were harming the “national camp”.

In a statement Livni said: “An evil spirit has been sweeping over the country, and it is our duty to stand up against this wave. Kadima cannot be a passive participant in this process; our public duty is not to be part of such a thing and stand against it — Those sparking the flames are the members of the Netanyahu-Lieberman government, whether silently or in complicity with elements in the Knesset [Parliament].” Prime minister Benajmin Netanyahu’s government is dependent on the support of Yisrael Beiteinu, Lieberman’s party.The centrist Kadima party has refused to join the coalition while it contains Yisrael Beiteinu.

As well as citing the Bill passed by a large majority last week to set up an investigation into the funding of rights organisations, Livni pointed to a video death threat issued against deputy state prosecutor Shal Nitzan for investigating two racist, anti-Arab Facebook groups. Netanyahu called for a police investigation into the video.

‘Betraying the national camp’
Concerns have also been raised about other Bills presented to the Knesset, including a proposal to impose heavy fines on Israeli citizens backing boycotts of the country and the demand that new non-Jewish citizens must pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

Earlier on Monday, Lieberman told party colleagues that the rights groups whose funding would be investigated were “terror supporters whose only goal is to weaken the IDF [military]”.

He attacked right-wing politicians who opposed the Bill, saying: “Some leaders of the right have become leftist proxies. They … are betraying the national camp.”

B’Tselem, one of the organisations which could face investigation, said in a statement: “Lieberman and his cronies are those who are damaging Israel’s international standing, in their policies as well as their attempts to silence human rights organisations that work fearlessly to save Israeli democracy and our country’s moral fibre.”

Physicians for Human Rights said: “We don’t have anything to hide. Our activities, which aim to bring about a more fair and inclusive society, are carried out by hundreds of committed volunteers, physicians, and staff. Leiberman could learn a thing or two from them, especially with regards to the values of fairness, compassion, and democracy.” – guardian.co.uk

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