Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to raise the fence to keep foreign government money from reaching Israeli NGO’s.
Netanyahu told a meeting of coalition leaders that he seeks to impose a ban on foreign entity funding of Israeli NGO’s altogether; that the current requirements for transparency are insufficient to protect the country from outside meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
The existing law, passed last year, requires nonprofit organizations that receive more than half of their funding from a foreign political entity to declare it in any publication or letter to elected officials or civil servants, and they must be listed on the Non-Profit Registrar’s website.
The law passed over the vociferous protests of Netanyahu’s left-wing opposition within Israel and abroad, and criticism from the EU and the Obama administration. Almost all the NGO’s affected by the law – 25 out of 27 – are left-wing.
Netanyahu cited Norway’s agreement to cancel funding of a Palestinian center that was named after a notorious terrorist after he called his counterpart in Oslo to explain Israel’s objections.
Also, about two weeks ago, Netanyahu announced his new policy of refusing to meet with foreign leaders who meet far-left NGO’s, such as Breaking the Silence.
Pursuit of such a funding ban will generate another legislative battle, perhaps even more fierce than last year’s, since this time it will mean not merely declaring funding sources, but outlawing those sources.
Meretz MK Michal Rozin denounced the proposal as “another effort by the prime minister to wink to the Right at the expense of Israeli democracy.” She said she didn’t think it would get past the High Court, it nevertheless sends a “grave” public message.
“The NGO’s are not the problem, but rather the solution, and that is why the right wing government is shaking,” she said.