Bill Banning NGOs Denying Israel's Jewish Character to Face Committee

Legislation sponsored by Likud MK Miri Regev joins another bill targeting NGOs.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A bill that would prevent the registering of non-profit organizations that deny the Jewish character of Israel, is expected to be brought before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Israeli law currently bans the registration of NGOs that deny Israel’s democratic character or its existence all together.

MK Miri Regev (Likud), who is sponsoring the bill, explained its purpose: “Under the current legal setting, there is no prohibition on registering NGOs that seek to deny Israel’s Jewish character. So it has been proposed to do just that, to prevent registering organizations that deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, in accordance with the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.”

Regev attempted to pass the bill in the previous Knesset, but failed. It is unclear wether the bill will make its way past the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Last December, the same committee approved a bill jointly sponsored by Habayit Hayedhu and Yisrael Beiteinu that would limit the ability of Israeli NGOs’ to raise funds outside the country. The bills original wording stated that NGOs seeking to deny Israel’s character as a Jewish and Democratic state would be forced to pay 45 percent tax on any funding they receive from abroad. Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, however, changed its wording, saying that the committee would not support the bill unless that stipulation was changed.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni appealed the committee’s decision and staunchly criticized the bill. “Israeli patriotism does not mean wanting to harm Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; nor does it mean harming Israel’s international status or isolate it; nor does it mean continuing to fund extreme right-wing organizations that are trying to turn Israel into a fanatical messianic state; and it does not mean creating bills that would undermine the democracy the IDF strives to protect,” said Livni.

Update (Feb. 22, 2014, 9:00 P.M.): The vote, originally set to take place on Sunday, has been postponed.

Israeli MK Miri Regev in a Knesset committee discussion.Credit: Michal Fattal

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