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Israeli government reportedly removes bill targeting NGOs receiving foreign funding

Members of Breaking the Silence organization in Hebron, November 2, 2022. (Photo: Flash90)

The Israeli government will reportedly refrain from voting on a bill designed to impose a 65% tax on foreign government donations to Israeli NGOs engaged in public advocacy.

The bill targeted human rights organizations operating in Israel and the West Bank, some of which receive significant funding from foreign governments, These left-wing NGOs, such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and the New Israel Fund, have been critical of Israeli policy and highlight alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinians in the disputed territories.

The bill, which was drafted by Likud party lawmaker Ariel Kallner, was condemned by the political opposition in Israel, in addition to officials in the United States, France and Germany.

Officials from the Likud admitted that “there are difficulties with the proposed bill” due to domestic and foreign pressures and that the bill will reportedly be “reexamined in light of the concerns expressed by a few countries,” an unnamed source told Israel’s Walla! News.

According to Kallner, the purpose of the bill is to address the “extent that delegitimization organizations operate within Israel and how foreign governments harm Israeli sovereignty.” Mainstream Israelis believe these NGOs cause harm to Israel by demonizing the Jewish state on the international stage.

The U.S. Biden administration has expressed concerns that the bill could potentially undermine freedom of speech. U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington stressed the importance of NGOs in civil society.

“I won’t speculate on things that might come to pass. I will just say that as a general matter, the United States supports the essential role of NGOs that are part of civil society,” said Miller.

“We believe that they are critical to democratic, responsive and transparent government, and we firmly believe that civil society should have the opportunity and space to operate and raise resources around the world,” he added.

Right-wing activists have argued that U.S. administrations and European governments seek to indirectly interfere in Israel’s domestic affairs by financing NGOs that are hostile toward Israel.

In May, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin reportedly accused the U.S. Biden administration of interfering with Israel’s democracy by aiding the widespread anti-government protests in Israel.

Levin’s comments could be heard on a leaked video recording, however, were denied by an unnamed U.S. State Department official, who said they are "absolutely and clearly false." 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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