Knesset passes NPO foreign financing law

Ayelet Shaked photo Eyal Izhar

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked: The Knesset said no to gross interference by other countries in the internal affairs of the State of Israel.

Last night, the Knesset plenum gave second and third readings to Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked's bill requiring disclosure of financing by foreign governments of non-profit organizations, Channel 2 News reports. After a long sitting in which about 1,000 objections were raised, the Knesset passed the law that imposes a series of obligations on non-profit organizations that receive their main financing from "a foreign state entity", such as a foreign government, the European Union, the United Nations, foreign government-sponsored funds, and so on.

The non-profit organizations to which the law applies will be obliged to declare their sources of finance on every publication or face a NIS 29,000 fine, and their representatives will have to wear a special badge. The law passed by a majority of 57 for to 48 against. "Up to now, we have bowed our heads; from today, we will no longer bow our heads," Shaked said in attacking the opposition after the Knesset spent six hours discussing the bill because of the objections raised against the bill she promoted. The opposition argued that the aim of the law was to hurt non-profit organizations that promoted policies different from those of the government, and that it constituted political persecution and was a severe blow to democracy.

"Today, Israel's Knesset said no to gross interference by other countries in the internal affairs of the State of Israel. The expression of a position by other countries on what happens in Israel is through recognized diplomatic channels. We will not allow such gross interference without exposure of the foreign sources of finance and without bringing these to the attention of the public and its elected representatives," Shaked said.

"The aim of the law is to prevent a situation in which foreign states interfere in Israel's internal affairs by financing non-profit organizations without the public being aware of it. Contrary to the claims being made, passing this law will lead to greater transparency," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added on his Facebook page.

The opposition condemned the law. "This is a law that more than anything else symbolizes the penetration of nationalistic, fascist seeds into public discourse in Israel," Leader of the Opposition MK Isaac Herzog said before the vote, adding, "This is a law that opens up a deep social cleft. The fate of laws such as this is to disappear from the world, together with the regime that brought them." Herzog's partner in the Zionist Union faction, Hatnuah leader MK Tzipi Livni, said, "This law is part of a campaign of incitement being waged in Israel."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 12, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

Ayelet Shaked photo Eyal Izhar
Ayelet Shaked photo Eyal Izhar
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