Netanyahu pushes for bill to ban Breaking the Silence, BDS NGOs

The bill would shut down Israeli groups that try to put IDF soldiers on trial in international courts.

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October 17, 2017 13:29
1 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pauses while addressing attendees during the 70th session

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pauses while addressing attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, October 1, 2015. . (photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

 
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New legislation supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would shut down any organization that seeks to harm IDF soldiers or try IDF soldiers in international courts.

The bill would also ban NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel or any area in its controls, meaning that it would apply to settlement boycotts, Channel 2 reported on Monday night.

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The new details followed Sunday’s unanimous decision by the coalition to launch a two-pronged attack on foreign funding of political NGOs, consisting of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into “the involvement of foreign governments in the funding of political organizations and activities to harm IDF soldiers,” and legislation that will be more stringent than the current laws requiring organizations to report foreign funding and announce it publicly if more than half of their budget comes from a foreign political entity.

The vast majority of organizations that are mostly funded by foreign governments  – 25 of 27 NGOs listed by the Justice Ministry in 2016 – are left-wing.

Earlier this year, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to come up with a new bill on the topic, because he thought the existing laws are too permissive.

Closing Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony from former IDF soldiers claiming war crimes and airs them around the world, was reportedly specifically mentioned in discussions of what the legislation should entail.

Breaking the Silence’s executive director Avner Gvaryahu said his organization “is here to stay, now and after Netanyahu,” and argued that the “persecution” of his NGO is a distraction from the investigations into alleged corruption by Netanyahu.

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“This is yet another pitiful witch-hunt from a right-wing government that knows its days are numbered,” he stated. “Yet again, Netanyahu chooses to use IDF soldiers, who have broken the silence and oppose the occupation, as a human shield, deflecting the consequences of his own criminal entanglements. Neither a commission of inquiry nor legislation will deter us. There is only one way to stop Breaking the Silence: end the occupation."


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