British Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested on Wednesday that an bill proposing to limit donations by foreign governments to leftist organizations "would be seen as undermining the democratic principles the Israeli state is founded on."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has decided to postpone the cabinet session on an appeal filed on the bill, which was scheduled for next week. He has yet to form a position on the revised bill.
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Hague said that "while the passing of legislation is a matter for the Israeli Knesset, we strongly call upon all involved to reconsider this move and for the Israeli Government to make clear its own opposition to it.” According to Hague the bill "would have a serious impact on projects funded from the UK and elsewhere to support universal rights and values."
William Hague. Urges government to reconsider (Photo: Reuters)
Last month, the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs approved two bills aiming to limit donations to leftist organizations. Ministers Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin filed an appeal which the government has yet to discuss. Meanwhile, a revised bill has been drafted but yet to be brought for approval at the Knesset.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein recently announced in a letter to Netanyahu that he will not be able to defend the bill at the High Court of Justice. Sources close to the prime minister estimated that Weinstein will also oppose the revised version of the bill, but noted there have been cases where "the government ignored the Attorney General's stance."
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern over the state of Israel's democracy pointing to the foreign funding bill.
European Union Ambassador Andrew Stanley also criticized the bill saying Europe was concerned with Israel's perception of friendly states. He said the EU does not fund political organizations but human rights projects and European groups.
Ronen Medzini, Attila Somfalvi and Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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