Barak: I Won’t Let Democracy be Undermined

December 17, 2011  

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday that he would battle the recently proposed legislation that would change the way judges are elected to Israel’s Supreme Court and restrict the foreign funding received by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Speaking at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in Washington, DC, Barak said, “As the Defense Minister of the State of Israel, I can assure you that I will stand rock solid against any attempt to curb freedoms or undermine our democracy. I will not allow politicized, targeted legislation to undermine the value of the supremacy of the law.”

He added, “The only Jewish Democratic State in the world must remain exactly that: a Jewish and democratic state.”

Recently approved legislation in Israel would enable the appointment of judges of varied judicial outlooks to the Supreme Court – a fact which has caused great discomfort to the left.

Another proposed bill would restrict foreign funding to NGOs. Prime Minister Binyamin decided to freeze the discussions of the bill last week, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Netanyahu he would not defend the bill should it be challenged in court. Weinstein claims the so-called Law of Associations is “unconstitutional.”

Previously it was reported that Netanyahu was looking at rewording and watering down the proposed NGO bill, so that it would distinguish between three types of NGOs.

The first group will be absolutely prohibited to accept any donations from foreign countries. It would include NGOs that support refusal to serve in the IDF, boycotts of Israel or an armed struggle against Israel. This group would include NGOs such as Adalah and Yesh Gvul.

The second group, consisting of purely welfare and educational organizations such as Magen David Adom and the Hebrew University, will be allowed to receive unlimited contributions.

Organizations in the third group are political in nature and will be required to pay a 45% tax for contributions they receive, unless their heads come before the Knesset for a hearing and are exempted from the tax. NGOs in this group would include the radical left Peace Now, B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights.

The leftist camp is fighting the proposed legislation furiously, as their power comes from foreign funding. Foreign funding is the source of many of the left’s public relations campaigns and lobbying groups

In his remarks Barak also said that since President Barack Obama came into the office, the security ties between Israel and the United States have strengthened.

Barak also addressed the Arab Spring protest and said, “We are preparing for an ‘Islamic Winter’, although in the long run we hope to be part of a democratic neighborhood.”

Speaking about the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Barak stressed: “We have to resume negotiations which will lead to breakthroughs and achieve a political agreement with our neighbors, a fact which is essential to ensure the future of Israel.”

On Friday, Barak will meet President Obama on the sidelines of the conference. The President is also scheduled to address the 5,000 attendees of the conference.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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