Right-wing MKs to propose bill limiting left-wing NGOs

Legislation would require organizations receiving funds from foreign governments to register as foreign agents.

Ayelet Shaked  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ayelet Shaked
Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked announced plans to push forward a bill defining any nongovernmental organization accepting funding from another country as a foreign agent in the coming weeks. This is her second initiative to limit organizations she sees as trying to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Shaked, Knesset House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) and Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov modeled their “foreign agents bill” on US law requiring organizations that are under foreign control, even if it is indirect, to register with the Justice Department.
The bill would institute a registration unit for foreign agents, similar to the US one.
If the legislation passes, foreign agents will have to report any aid they receive from countries overseas and any commitments they have to them, as well as any “foreign activity” they conduct or plan to conduct, and any communication relating to the activity and commitments, among other details, all of which will be accessible to the public, with exceptions like national security or professional secrets.
The MKs submitted the bill in July, but it has yet to be brought to a vote at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which Shaked hopes to do in two weeks.
Shaked described the Tuesday's proposal at the Knesset Caucus for Battling Delegitimization of Israel, led by MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) and sponsored by nationalist NGO Im Tirzu, as something that fits with the caucus’ efforts.
“[Shaked and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett] asked the prime minister to define the threat of delegitimization against Israel as a strategic one and allocate budgets and resources to it, just like the struggle against Iran’s nuclear program,” she told the caucus. “The threat of delegitimization erodes the legitimacy of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Shaked, Levin and Ilatov drafted the foreign agents bill months after another initiative of theirs to limit donations to organizations that call for IDF soldiers to be brought to international courts, for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel or its citizens, denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, incites to racism or support armed combat by an enemy state or terrorist organization against Israel.
The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in 2013.
In the previous Knesset, Likud MK Ofir Akunis and Yisrael Beytenu MK Faina Kirschenbaum, both currently deputy ministers, proposed similar legislation, which was blocked by then-minister without portfolio Bennie Begin, who declared the bills “dead.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman promised to revive the bills, but they never ended up getting passed.