Ahead of the discussion and expected vote on the NGO Bill today by the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee, Israel Democracy Institute scholars came out against the bill's progression and the members of Knesset who plan on pushing it through.
Ahead of today's discussion and expected vote on the NGO Bill by the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee, Israel Democracy Institute scholars came out against the bill's progression and the members of Knesset who plan on pushing it through.
Scholars Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs say the expected vote is "outrageous," given that even a portion of coalition Knesset members who took part in deliberations on the bill continue to oppose it for reasons including that the bill distinguishes between state and private donations.
Kremnitzer and Fuchs point out that the bill contains a clause requiring funding disclosure at the beginning of any session that takes place in the Knesset, something which has no precedent in or around the world and that has been called disproportionate by the legal advisor of the Law Committee.
The IDI professors, who took part in committee deliberations and wrote an in-depth policy statement on the subject, said that the deliberations on the bill were "almost grotesque because they were so nontransparent. This bill has one purpose: silencing and encouraging incitement against human rights organizations that criticize the government's policy. Therefore adding it to the state's laws would be a mark of disgrace on the Knesset and Israeli democracy."
In their policy paper, which was given to committee members at the onset of deliberations, Kremnitzer and Fuchs write that the bill does not explain why it requires transparency only in situations in which the support for an organization comes from a foreign country and not from individual donations. They also explain why the bill is not similar to the American law. For instance, the American law does not require disclosure by an NGO at any meeting where there is no connection between the subject of the meeting deliberations and the country that contributes to the NGO. Further, the American law applies to instances in which the organization is controlled by a foreign entity that runs it.
They also write in their policy statement that the bill will cause damage to Israel's image in the world, potentially advance legal processes against Israel in international forums, and paint Israel as a state that harms the freedom of human rights organizations to act, just like rogue regimes Russia and Venezuela.
"The organizations that deal with human rights here in Israel are Israeli organizations, of which Israel should be proud," write Kremnitzer and Fuchs. "The very fact that they exist and issue internal criticism of the government contributes to Israel's image around the world as an ethical and democratic country that respects international law and the rights of the minorities who live here."
Full policy statement>> (Hebrew)