Praising it as a guardian of democracy, Netanyahu announced he supports a bill calling for transparency of NGO’s funded by foreign governments, as long as certain changes are made to make it more palatable.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that he supports a bill presented by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked requiring Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) operating in Israel which receive most of their funding from foreign governments to be more transparent, albeit with some changes tailored to meet American standards.
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, including the Obama administration, have expressed concerns that the move was “undemocratic,” and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro met with Minister of Justice Shaked last Monday to discuss the issue.
“I do not understand how a requirement for transparency is anti-democratic; the opposite is true,” Netanyahu rebuffed the allegations and the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “In a democratic regime, we need to know who is financing such NGOs, from the Right, the Left, up or down; financing by governments is certainly something the public should know about – it has a right to know.”
Regarding the proposed law, he said it needs to be adapted to meet norms accepted by the US House of Representatives.
“And therefore, I request that this law be advanced with two amendments: First, to drop the demand that representatives of these NGO’s wear tags in the Knesset – this is unnecessary. Second, to require reports about the first shekel or dollar from foreign governments; we will thus bring the law in line with what is accepted in the US,” he said adding that in his view, “these two amendments are necessary. I think that they are very important.”
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.
The bill 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.
NGOs would be fined $7,500 for any violation of the proposed requirements, the bill states.
As expected, many foreign governments have protested this move, suggesting they don’t want their activities within Israel limited and that this law would be effective.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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