Cabinet backs bill to register NGOs funded by foreign states

No organization in Israel would be allowed to receive money from a foreign political entity unless it registers.

NGOs that receive funding from a “foreign political entity” would have to register with the Political Party Registrar and declare in all public appearances that they represent an organization that receives funding from such an entity, according to a bill sponsored by Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin that received government backing from the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
According to the explanation attached to the measure, its aim is to “increase the transparency and to correct lacunas in the law regarding the funding of political activity in Israel by foreign political entities.”
The bill defines “political activity” as “activity aimed at influencing public opinion in Israel or one of the branches of government in Israel regarding any element of Israel’s domestic or foreign policy.”
The legislation is part of a campaign against Israeli human rights non-profit organizations that receive funding from foreign states and the European Union for their activities.
For the past few years, right-wing organizations, including NGO Monitor, have emphasized whenever they mention these left-wing organizations that they receive money from foreign governments.
According to the bill, no organization in Israel would be allowed to receive money from a foreign political entity unless it registers with the Registrar of Political Parties. The registrar would be responsible for the registry completely independent of his registry of political parties.
The NGO would have to list the aims of the organization, its address and the identification number of every key activist, including directors, members of the executive committee, active directors and those authorized to sign checks.
Each time the organization receives funding from a foreign country, it would inform the registrar and provide details regarding the identity of the donor, the sum donated, its purpose, and the commitments made by the recipients to the donors.
Any organization that receives financial support from a foreign country would make note of this fact in any document it writes that involves political activity. Any member of such an organization would have to declare the fact that he receives financial support from a foreign country whenever he makes a speech having anything to do with the subject for which he received the money.
All the senior members of the NGO who meet the criteria of the bill and do not register would be liable to one year in jail.
The ministerial committee decided that the bill would be formulated in coordination with the Ministry of Justice. Elkin told The Jerusalem Post thatthis was standard procedure for bills of this sort and he was notworried that the Justice Ministry would dilute its provisions.
MKs co-sponsoring the bill include Avraham Michaeli (Shas), David Rotem(Israel Beiteinu), Othniel Schneller (Kadima), Yariv Levin and TzipiHotoveli (Likud) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union).