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MK Ayelet Shaked Photo: Tal Shachar)
MK Ayelet Shaked Photo: Tal Shachar)
 
 

NGO bill approved by ministers despite controversy

Habayit Hayehudi proposal to heavily tax foreign donations to NGOs that are critical of government passes ministerial committee. Opposition response: Dangerous, dictatorial decree

Moran Azulay
Published: 12.15.13, 18:28 / Israel News

Ministers approved the controversial NGO bill proposed by Knesset members Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Sunday. The bill passed a vote of the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs, with the support of ministers from Shaked's party and from Likud-Beiteinu.

 

Representatives of the left slammed the proposal, calling it "dangerous and dictatorial," noting the bill was intended to silence any one who dares to criticize the administration and think differently. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she intended to appeal the proposed legislation.

 

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The bill proposes a 45% tax charged on nonprofit foundations and organizations that receive foreign donations and that take part in the following activities:

 

  • Advocating the boycott, divestment, or sanctioning of Israel or its citizens.
  • Calling for the trial of IDF soldiers in international courts.
  • Denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • Inciting to racism.
  • Supporting armed struggle against the State of Israel by an enemy state or terror organization.

 

Habayit Hayehudi welcomed the approval of the bill, saying: "The bill will help defend IDF soldiers from perverse lawsuits funded by foreign actors. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's appeal against the bill is an irresponsible move."

 

The statement added: "Every day in which the bill does not become law, IDF soldiers are in danger and their operational ability is damaged. Minister Livni would do well do put aside political considerations and stop delaying this bill."

 

'Narrow-minded, anti-democratic decision'

Minister Livni said during the discussion that being patriotic means not passing anti-democratic legislation: "The State of Israel wants to protect IDF soldiers in international tribunals and the rule of law in Israel affects the decisions of these tribunals."

 

She added that "Habayit Hayehudi's proposal will harm IDF soldiers, not protect them. This is a populist proposal under the guise of patriotism, which will hurts Israel's ability to defend IDF soldiers."

 

Yesh Atid ministers joined Livni in opposing the bill.

 

Chairman of the opposition, Isaac Herzog said: "The decision of the ministerial committee in the name of the Israeli government is narrow-minded, anti-democratic and shuts down any one who dares not emulate her thinking. The next stage of this bill's implementation is forming a thought police that will determine who pays fines for an opinions and who doesn't, who is blacklisted politically and who isn't."

 

According to Herzog, "Israel is becoming less and less democratic. Everyone who loves the country and holds it dear must oppose this law with all their might. It is up to the prime minister and the Knesset plenum to cancel the decision of the ministerial committee."

 

The left said the proposal is a witch hunt of those who dare oppose the government. Before the committee's discussion, Meretz chairwoman, Zahava Gal-On said: "Woe to the administration that supports it."

 

On Friday, the Justice Ministry announced that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein opposed the proposal. In the opinion presented to the committee it was noted that Weinstein thinks the bill is unconstitutional and is meant as a means of punishment to foundations, which will thwart donations to them and hurt the public dialogue in Israel.

 

Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report

 

 

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