Livni on foreign funding bill: Gov't trying to silence citizens
Opposition leader, leftist organizations say ministers' support for legislation aimed at restricting non-profit groups' ability to raise money abroad anti-democratic; B'Tselem: Netanyahu government bringing Israel's international standing to a new low
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni slammed the Ministerial Committee on Legislation's approval on Sunday of two proposals that are aimed at limiting foreign funding for Israeli non-profit organizations, saying "Israel is strong enough to handle varying opinions from within.
"The current government, in a deliberate process, is trying to silence its citizens out of fear of criticism and a will to survive. We will fight against these proposals," she told Ynet.
The New Israel Fund called the ministers' decision "a disgraceful moment in the history of Israeli democracy."
"One of the these days," the organization said in a statement, "when the cabinet ministers will be asked what they did to prevent the State of Israel's deterioration to the dark realms of silencing regimes, they will have to take responsibility for failing to prevent it."
The New Israel Fund, which serves as an umbrella organization for hundreds of non-profit organizations in Israel, called on the Knesset to thwart the "anti-democratic" legislation, which, according to the group, will end with "hurting anyone whose opinion strays from the consensus."
In response to the approval of the two bills, human rights group B'Tselem said, "This government will not silence us. B'Tselem will be silent only when human rights violations in the Occupied Territories cease. Until then, we will continue to expose the injustices of the occupation.
"Every democracy needs human rights organizations and B'Tselem makes Israel a better place. The Netanyahu government is the one that is bringing Israel's international standing to a new low," the group said.
According to B'Tselem official Sarit Michaeli, social organizations in Israel receive funding from foreign governments in accordance with agreements those governments have with the Israeli government – "such as the agreements with the European Union on shared values."
Knesset Member Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu), who initiated one of the controversial bills, said "there is no reason why the State of Israel should grant a tax-exemption for such contributions (foreign)."
Minister Yossi Peled (Likud), who voted in favor of the proposals, said "we live in a very (unique reality that does not exist) in any other country. If the Breaking the Silence organization is funded (by foreign bodies) and then persecutes IDF soldiers – this is something we cannot accept."
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