Cabinet Gives Initial Consent to Bill Limiting Foreign-Funded Non-Profits

breaking the silence

ayelet shaked

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the new bill against foreign-funded NGOs, arrives Sunday morning for cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Israeli cabinet ministers gave preliminary approval for a bill that imposes restrictions on non-profit groups that receive foreign funding, which, proponents say, amounts to meddling in Israeli affairs.

A bill that imposes restrictions on foreign-funded non-profit organizations, proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and approved by a committee of ministers on Sunday, would affect organizations that receive more than half their funding from a foreign government.

The bill requires affected organizations to declare their sources of funding on every report and in parliamentary discussions. Their activists also will be required to wear special tags when working in Israel’s parliament.

A new report issued this month by the Im Tirtzu Zionist student group revealed that Breaking the Silence, an NGO that smears the IDF with false allegations of abuse of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, received $1,352,500 through the governments of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK and the EU between 2013 and 2015. It also received $303,500 and an additional emergency grant from the Palestinian Fund Secretariat for Human Rights and International Law, operating out of PA-controlled Ramallah—which noted in its 2015 report that it paid Breaking the Silence to bring them at least one negative testimony against the IDF.

Isaac Herzog

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog opposes the new bill. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In 2015 it was revealed that foreign state entities have been paying Breaking the Silence to get “as many soldiers as possible” to testify about committing actions that violate human rights. Breaking the Silence provided has 57 testimonies against the IDF from former combatants who speak anonymously.

Breaking the Silence’s claims have been repeatedly debunked by soldiers who have come forward without concealing their identity.

Critics of the new legislation say it is aimed at stifling left-wing organizations critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government policies toward the Palestinians, since such non-government groups tend to rely heavily on donations from European countries.

The legislature is expected to approve the bill as early as this week.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog blasted the bill as a “muzzling law” that would bring about “thought police.”

Yair Lapid vs. Breaking the Silence

MK Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, held a press conference with 600 IDF reservists in Tel Aviv last week, announcing their fight against Breaking the Silence. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

“Over the past months, we’ve been under attack by the extreme right, trying to silence the debate about the ‘occupation,’” a Breaking the Silence member posted on Twitter.

Proponents of the bill say that foreign governments have standard diplomatic channels at their disposal through which they can push their agendas, and that funding non-profit groups amounts to meddling in Israeli affairs.

“I expect the European Union to respect the democratic decisions of Israel,” stated Shaked.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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