Draft Bill: NGOs With Foreign Funding to Be Defined 'Foreign Agents'

Right-wing MKs say organizations operate with a lack of transparency, Israeli public does not benefit from their activity.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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MK Ayelet Shaked, who togeher with MKs Robert Ilatov and Yariv Levin is proposing branding NGOs with overseas funding 'foreign agents.'
MK Ayelet Shaked, who togeher with MKs Robert Ilatov and Yariv Levin is proposing branding NGOs with overseas funding 'foreign agents.'Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A new draft bill calls for increased supervision of non-government organizations or Israelis who receive funding from foreign countries, and defining them as “foreign agents.” Under the bill, contributions from other countries to these organizations will be taxed and the NGOs will be required to submit regular reports to Israel. In addition, every NGO will be required to publicize, alongside its logo on official documents, that it serves as a “foreign agent.”

The bill was initiated by MKs Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) and Yariv Levin (Likud), and constitutes another attempt to promote legislation that will limit the ability of human rights organizations operating in Israel to receive funding for their activity.

“There are dozens of organizations active in Israel that receive funding from foreign government entities in exchange for the organization’s promise to promote the interests of these entities, or of those who are not Israeli citizens,” wrote the three in their preamble to the bill. “As of today, these organizations have no obligation of proper disclosure, in which they have to present themselves as clearly representing foreign interests that do not accord with Israeli interests.”

The MKs said that “these organizations operate with a lack of transparency regarding the objectives of their activity and under the cover of organizations working to promote Israeli interests. They are presently entitled to a tax exemption, although the Israeli public does not benefit from their activity.”

The bill proposes creating a mechanism that defines an organization that is funded by a foreign political entity, due to its obligation to promote the interests of that entity or of people who are not Israeli citizens, as a foreign agent of that country. According to the proposal the organization will be obligated to exercise proper disclosure and transparency. In addition, the foreign funding received by these organizations will no longer enjoy a tax exemption, as has been the case until now.

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer criticized the initiative. “Ayelet Shaked and Robert Ilatov have joined the recycling trend and have also decided to recycle garbage. Their draft bill is full of lies and distortions, and has no resemblance to the situation in the United States or in any other democratic country. The entire purpose of the proposal is to incite and delegitimize the peace camp,” said Oppenheimer.

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