Israel takes first step to pass controversial NGO law
JERUSALEMFeb 10, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Feb 10, 2016 12:00 am
A controversial bill which would compel NGOs which receive most of their funding from foreign governments to declare this in official reports passed its first reading on Monday in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
The proposal – denounced by critics as likely to encourage a witch-hunt against leftist groups that campaign for the defense of Palestinian rights – passed with 50 votes in favor and 43 against, following a tense debate. Two more readings of the bill by the parliament are required for it to become law.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the law, argues it will boost transparency while the government seeks to fight foreign interference and attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel. She has insisted it does not target any specific NGO.
The text does not specifically refer to leftist organizations, but they are the groups it would impact, as right-wing NGOs which support Israel's occupation of the West Bank tend to rely instead on private donations, particularly from the United States.
The bill has sparked international criticism, with the US and EU ambassadors to Israel both expressing concern over its implications.