Knesset Says No to Livni’s Private-Donor-Disclosure Bill for NGOs

YERUSHALAYIM -

The government coalition batted down Tzipi Livni’s NGO transparency bill, proving by a vote of 42 to 40 that not all transparency is created equal.

In response to Justice Minister Ayalet Shaked’s bill to require reports of funding from foreign states, Livni wanted similar transparency imposed on NGOs receiving money from private donors abroad.

Livni argued before the plenum that Shaked’s proposal is partisan: “The government’s bill is called the ‘transparency bill’ but in practicality, it is meant to label those who oppose the government in Israel,” she said. The left-wing NGOs in Israel are supported largely by foreign countries, while their right-wing counterparts depend on private monies.

Livni said 500 million shekels are donated privately to NGOs in Israel each year, 90 percent of which is kept private.

“If you really want transparency,” she said to the coalition, “then do it for everyone. There’s no such thing as half-transparent.”

Shaked rose to rebut Livni’s remarks, saying that she was trying “to make two things that are not at all connected to each other appear to be equal.

“There is no connection between the transparency bill I am promoting to prevent intervention from foreign countries in Israel, and Livni’s NGO bill, which will hurt tens of thousands of good NGOs in Israel,” Shaked argued. “Livni, you are taking good organizations that are promoting true social agendas hostage to your political agenda.”

Donors who previously thought their contributions would be kept private may stop or scale down their funding if it is disclosure is made mandatory, she said.

Shaked also pointed out that when Livni was Justice Minister, in the last government, she did not seek to make private donations transparent.

The government’s NGO transparency bill is expected to go to a vote Monday.