Government Supports Bills Restricting Foreign Funding to NGOs

The Knesset plenum, photo by Itzik Edri

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation has voted today (13 November 2011) in favor of backing two private bills intended to restrict funding from “foreign state entities” to Israeli NGOs. 11 ministers voted in favor and 5 against. An appeal was made as part of the vote at the ministerial committee, and therefore the bills are expected to be brought for discussion by the government’s full assembly before they can proceed to a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum.
The first bill, officially titled “The Associations Law (Amendment – Banning Foreign Diplomatic Entities’ Support of Political Associations in Israel),” attempts to set monetary limitations on Israeli human rights organizations. According to this bill, an Israeli NGO that seeks to influence state policies would not be allowed to receive donations of more than 20,000 NIS (roughly $6000) from foreign state entities. The second bill, proposed by MK Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beitenu) seeks to amend the Income Tax Order so that funding from foreign state entities to Israeli NGOs will be subject to a 45% taxation rate.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has twice distributed its position paper to all MKs stating that these two bills are a severe affront to Israel’s democratic character and part of a larger effort on the part of specific MKs to curtail the work of human rights and social change organizations whose agenda and/or activities differ from their political views. In the position paper, ACRI’s Director of Policy Advocacy, Attorney Debbie Gild-Hayo, and Chief Legal Counsel, Attorney Dan Yakir, note: “A democratic state must ensure freedom of expression and assembly, pluralism of views, thoughts, and activities. A democracy must not constrain political, social or other activity based on the political, religious, or social worldview of one part of the population by exploiting political power for purposes of silencing those in disfavor. This is not ‘defensive democracy.’ This is simply not democracy.”
Following the government’s decision to support these dangerous bills, Hagai El-Ad, ACRI’s Executive Director, stated: “The current government is leading an attack on the foundations of democracy – the Supreme Court’s very independence was endangered today, as are the freedom of operations for human rights organizations. But even further, the government insists on also attacking freedom of expression and the rights of Arab citizens. In the face of this attack, ACRI will continue fighting for civil liberties, social justice, and human rights. We are steadfast in our opposition to Knesset legislation aimed at derailing Israeli democracy.”
To download ACRI’s position paper (in English), click here.

To read the current version of the Akunis Bill (in English), click here.

To read the current version of the Kirshenbaum Bill (in English), click here.

  • Print
  • email
  • RSS
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression

Tags: |

6 Responses to Government Supports Bills Restricting Foreign Funding to NGOs

  1. Pingback: Hagai El-Ad: Suppression Begets Suppression

  2. Pingback: Hagai El-Ad: Suppression Begets Suppression -

  3. Pingback: Hagai El-Ad: Suppression Begets Suppression | BNewsworld