(AP/Christian Lutz)
European Parliament

European Members of Parliament are trying to persuade Israeli members of Knesset to vote against a bill that would limit the destructive European influence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Members of the European parliament continued their attempts to influence internal Israeli policy making and penned an open letter urging Israeli lawmakers not to support a new bill which could hinder their activities within Israel.

Israeli lawmakers are working to pass a law that stipulates, among other requirements, that lobbyists for NGOs working in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, who receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments must wear special identity tags while in the Knesset.

Several governments have expressed concerns that the move was “undemocratic,” but lawmakers backing the bill explain that it promotes transparency.

There are over 300 NGOs operating in Israel which are funded by foreign governments, and primarily by the Europeans, which operate to influence Israel in various aspects, and in many cases operate against the Jewish State. Lawmakers are now working to limit their subversive activities.

Some 50 EU Members of Parliament wrote in a letter on Monday that as individuals who are “committed to values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression,” they are conveying their “deep concern” over the proposed bill, which passed its first reading in the Knesset on Monday evening.

“We support transparency in the conduct of public affairs in any democracy. However, we are concerned that this law is inherently discriminatory. It is framed in a manner that delegitimises and demonises NGOs who promote and defend human rights, as well as the European states and institutions that fund them,” they claimed.

Netanyahu Shaked

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (C) and PM Netanyahu. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

They assailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s for its supposed “worrying trend… to restrict, delegitimise, and stifle the work of NGOs, organisations, artists, writers, and thinkers who may be critical of current Israeli government policy.”

“Legislation which limits, narrows, and hampers civil society action only serves to weaken Israel, and damage the potential for a political solution to the conflict with the Palestinians,” they asserted.

“If anything, Israel’s reputation risks being damaged by dubious government attempts to silence its critics,” they threatened.

The bill, proposed by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, stipulates that any NGO primarily funded by foreign donations would need to state that fact clearly in its publications, reports, and formal communications with any public or government body. It also stipulates that such NGOs’ annual reports, and their communications with state bodies, would need to include the full details of their funding sources.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel