(photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
MKs from both the coalition and opposition came out on Wednesday against the
“NGO Bill,” which seeks to limit funding to organizations that call for boycotts
“This is a shameful bill, and the attorney-general already
said in the past that proposals like it go against basic constitutional rights,”
MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) explained.
MKs Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi)
and Robert Ilatov (Likud Beytenu) proposed the “NGO Bill” on Tuesday.
seeks to cap donations to NGOs from foreign governments at NIS 20,000 if an
organization, its members, a member of its management or one of its employees
calls for IDF soldiers to be brought to international courts; calls for
boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) of Israel or its citizens; denies
Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; incites to racism; or
supports armed combat by an enemy state or terrorist organization against
“The attempt to harm freedom of expression and stop legitimate
political activity by NGOs is inappropriate and anti-democratic,” Hoffman
As for Shaked and Ilatov’s explanation that such legislation would
prevent delegitimization of Israel, Hoffman said the opposite was
“This bill will only bolster delegitimization attempts and plays
right into the hands of those who claim Israel is undemocratic. The attempt to
solve delegitimization through a bill that violates freedom of expression is
like trying to put out a fire by pouring oil on it,” he stated.
leader Zehava Gal-On said right-wing MKs were trying to destroy Israeli
“According to the Right’s vision, Israel will be an
abominable, hated leper country that is isolated and boycotted,” Gal-On
She explained that Israeli human rights organizations did not
receive money from the government for ethical reasons because they supervised
and criticized governments. In this way they were “unlike fat settler
organizations that nurse from the udders of the government and milk the tax
money of Israeli citizens,” she said.
“Limitations of the kind suggested
in the NGO Bill exist only in nondemocratic governments. There is a similar law
in [President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia, and apparently those who proposed the
bill are inspired by his dark government,” Gal-On said.
for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis (Likud Beytenu), who proposed similar
legislation in the last Knesset, defended the bill against those who called it
“The NGO Bill is the most democratic and just bill ever,
and any attempts to block it are not done in the name of Israeli democracy, but
out of political motives by those interested in continuing the intolerable
situation in which foreign countries intervene in Israeli politics by funding
political NGOs,” Akunis said.
He called such funding “clear intervention
in the State of Israel’s internal affairs [by a foreign country].”
Monitor, an organization that has often criticized human rights and other
non-profit groups for receiving funding from foreign governments, also came out
against the legislation.
“Transparency and accountability for powerful
NGOs are essential parts of the Israeli democratic discourse and policy debate,”
the organization stated. “However, as NGO Monitor has repeatedly stated,
legislative proposals that go beyond transparency and suggest distinctions based
on political motivations and ideology are polarizing, not enforceable, and
damage Israel’s vital national interests.”
NGO Monitor added that while
“NGO political warfare against Israel – including lawfare, BDS, Holocaust
denial, false allegations of ‘war crimes’ and other forms of delegitimization –
are core threats, defeating this warfare requires a carefully designed and