Minister Benny Begin 58.
(photo credit: Pool)
Senior ministers sent mixed signals on the future of the disputed NGO bills on
Monday, with Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin proclaiming them
“practically dead,” and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisting one of them
will be brought to a vote on Wednesday.
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The bills in question limit
donations from foreign governments and international organizations to NGOs. One,
by MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) would cap such contributions at NIS 20,000, if they
are sent to political organizations. The other, drafted by MK Faina Kirschenbaum
(Israel Beiteinu), seeks to levy a 45 percent tax on donations from foreign
governments to any NGO.
The NGO bills have faced fierce opposition from
leftwing politicians and organizations, as well as some ministers in the
coalition, claiming that the measures limit freedom of expression. Kirschenbaum
and Akunis, however, have said their initiatives will prevent foreign
governments and international organizations from intervening in Israeli
Israel Beiteinu put Kirschenbaum’s initiative on the Knesset
agenda for a preliminary vote on Wednesday, with Lieberman saying his party
“won’t give up on this bill.”
“We expect the coalition to consider our
promises to our voters,” Lieberman said.
“When there is ‘land-mine’
legislation, we prefer to find ways to dismantle the mine and not make it
explode.” However, the foreign minister said he would be willing to delay the
vote by a week if the coalition leadership requests that his party do
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Sources in the Likud, however, said the bill has no possibility of
Begin told the The Jerusalem Post
on Monday that once the bills
were approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, he appealed to the
Begin’s appeal means the ministers can only vote on
the bills again if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to revive them,
which he is unlikely to do in light of opposition by Begin and other
“The bill is dead,” Begin told the Post
. “If there’s a medical
term for ‘practically dead,’ that’s what the bill would be.”
underwent throat surgery last week, and is currently unable to speak, but his
spokesman said his bill will not be brought to a vote as long as it isn’t
approved by the ministers.
However, Kirschenbaum’s initiative is still on
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) cited “simple math” to
explain that the bill has no chance of passing.
According to Elkin, even
if there is coalition discipline in favor of the NGO bill, ministers will not be
required to vote against a government decision.
Therefore, with all
opposition factions other than the National Union likely to oppose the measure,
and many ministers absent from the Knesset, the bill cannot get a majority vote
in the plenum.
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