Israeli parliament takes first step to pass controversial NGO law
JERUSALEM (UPDATED) – A controversial bill that would compel NGOs receiving most of their funding from foreign governments to declare it in official reports passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament early Tuesday, February 9.
The proposal – denounced by critics as likely to encourage a witch-hunt against leftist groups that campaign for the defense of Palestinian rights – passed with 50 votes in favor and 43 against following a tense debate.
Two more readings of the bill by the parliament, or Knesset, are required for it to become law.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the law, argues it will boost transparency as the government seeks to fight foreign interference and attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel. She has insisted it does not target any specific NGO.
The text does not specifically refer to leftist organizations, but they are the groups it would impact as right-wing NGOs supporting Israel's occupation of the West Bank tend instead to rely on private donations, particularly from the United States.
The bill has sparked international criticism, with the US and EU ambassadors to Israel both expressing concern over its implications. – Rappler.com