Bibi Shelves Restrictive NGO Bill Again

By Haaretz

Published December 07, 2011.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided Wednesday to postpone the cabinet discussion on a bill aiming to restrict foreign funding to Israeli nongovernmental organizations, which was originally scheduled for next Sunday.

According to sources in Netanyahu’s bureau, the prime minister decided to suspend the discussion following a warning by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said in a letter to Netanyahu that he would not be prepared to defend the proposed legislation in the High Court of Justice should it pass the Knesset vote.

“The prime minister wants to think over the proposal in light of the letter he received and then decide how to move forward and handle this bill,” an official in Netanyahu’s bureau said Wednesday.

Over the weekend, Weinstein told Netanyahu in a letter that should the bill become a law, he will be unable to defend it against petitions that would be submitted to the High Court.

“The attorney general’s policy is to refrain as much as possible from declaring laws unconstitutional, out of respect for the legislative work of the cabinet and Knesset,” Weinstein wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend explaining his unusual decision.

“But in light of the blatancy of the case before us, deviating from this policy is justified. What this means is that if these bills become law, I won’t be able to defend them against the petitions that will be submitted to the High Court. That is what I intend to tell the Knesset, and afterward the Supreme Court.”

The two bills in question were submitted by MKs Ofir Akunis (Likud) and Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu ). Both are disproportionate and unconstitutional, Weinstein said.

“They deal a harsh blow to a long list of constitutional rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to equality,” he wrote.

For more, go to Haaretz.com



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