Ban on national service at foreign-funded NGOs clears hurdle

In 2015, there were 12 postings for national service in organizations that would fall under the bill’s purview.

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December 12, 2016 00:00
1 minute read.
Dozens of Israeli human rights activists of the B'Tselem group picket in east Jerusalem

Dozens of Israeli human rights activists of the B'Tselem group picket in east Jerusalem. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

 
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The coalition’s battle against foreign- funded NGOs continued on Sunday, with the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval of a bill that would cancel national-service positions in organizations that receive most of their funding from foreign governments.

In 2015, there were 12 postings for national service – a civilian alternative to IDF service for those who have religious or conscientious objections, or are not healthy enough for military service – in organizations that would fall under the bill’s purview.

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The organizations receiving most of their funding from foreign governments that have national service volunteers working for them are B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Israel Social TV, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, and the Public Committee Against Torture.

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who proposed the bill with support from the prime minister, said “it is inconceivable that we provide subsidized manpower to organizations that work on behalf of foreign interests, depict Israel as a war criminal, protect mega-terrorists and slander IDF soldiers who protect us day and night.”

Amir drafted the legislation in cooperation with the right-wing Im Tirzu movement, whose CEO Matan Peleg said it is “an important and necessary step in defending Israel from foreign governmental intervention.”

Peleg accused the organizations of “working against [Israel] from within,” and called for the Knesset to act quickly to pass the bill.

Earlier this year, the Knesset passed a law requiring any NGO receiving more than half its funding from a foreign governmental entity to identify itself as such in any publications and in any meetings with public officials. The law is controversial, because 25 of the 27 organizations to which it applies are considered left-wing.

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