European Union: 'NGO Law' Risks Undermining Israeli Democratic Values

Reporting requirements imposed on nonprofits 'seem aimed at constraining the activities of these civil society organizations working in Israel,' statement says.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in Knesset, June 27, 2016.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in Knesset, June 27, 2016. Olivier Fitoussi

The European Union on Tuesday sharply criticized the so-called "NGO Transparency Law" passed by the Knesset a day earlier.

The law passed its second and third readings in Knesset 57-48. It mandates special reporting requirements for nongovernmental organizations that get most of their funding from foreign governments. Right-wing politicians behind the legislation have dubbed it a "law of transparency." But according to critics, the legislation targets human rights organizations.

In a statement, the EU spokesman's office said the law limits the activity of civil society group and endangers Israel's democratic fundamentals and its shared values with Europe.

The new law's reporting requirements imposed on nonprofits goes "beyond the legitimate need for transparency," the statement said, adding that the law "seem[s] aimed at constraining the activities of these civil society organisations working in Israel."

"Israel enjoys a vibrant democracy, freedom of speech and a diverse civil society which are an integral part of the values which Israel and the EU both hold dear," the EU spokesman's office said.

"This new legislation risks undermining these values. We call upon Israel to continue to promote its active NGO sector and to refrain from actions which may complicate the space in which civil society organizations operate and which may curtail freedom of expression and association."