A controversial campaign finance reform restricting NGO activities, which is backed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, won approval from the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.
The so-called “V15 bill” would prohibit nongovernmental organizations from accepting donations of more than NIS 1,000 a month in an election year. It would also prevent them from receiving funds from anyone ineligible to vote in an Israeli election, a provision aimed at restricting foreign influence on domestic politics.
If the bill becomes law, it could drastically restrict NGOs’ that engage in political activities, including supporting or opposing a political party, sponsoring voter opinion polls, or canvassing voters for a specific party.
The proposal has encountered strong opposition, and not only from the left.
Ministerial Committee for Legislation chairwoman Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is against it and abstained from Sunday’s vote.
“The bill in its current version shames our democracy,” she said.
The bill’s explanatory portion refers specifically to V15, an organization that campaigned against Netanyahu with rallies, billboards and going door-to-door using advanced data research methods to target voters with the issues likely to be important to them. V15 received funding from groups in the U.S.
Darkenu, a group ostensibly targeted by the bill, claimed that “Netanyahu wants to censor us. He has no idea how to stop the intifada, so instead, he is busy trying to silence us with bizarre bills that eat away at Israeli democracy.
“Every citizen today, on the Right and Left, should be concerned about its cowardly leadership that is doing everything to prevent legitimate criticism by citizens,” Darkenu spokesman Eyal Basson said.