Netanyahu: France Mulls Ban on Foreign Funding of Mosques but Backs anti-Israel Groups

Prime minister compares French proposal to ban foreign funding of mosques to the recently passed Israeli NGO legislation: 'We too are concerned by such donations.'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a weekly cabinet briefing meeting in Jerusalem July 24, 2016.
Ronen Zvulun, AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that France is contemplating a ban on foreign funding of mosques while supporting groups that incite against Israel. At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu also compared the proposed French legislation to Israel's NGO law, as well as other legislation that the government is promoting.

"I heard about the discussion taking place in the French government regarding the prevention of foreign funding of bodies that harm the security of French citizens," Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting. "It sounds familiar to us. We too are concerned by such donations to organizations that deny Israel's right to exist."

Last week, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that he was "open" to a temporary ban on the foreign funding of mosques following the string of attacks that recently struck France.

In his remarks, Netanyahu said that Israel has found that some European governments donate funds to groups that incite against Israel.

"I asked for a preliminary check to be carried out. In this probe we discovered that European countries, including France, support a number of organizations that incite and call for the boycott of Israel and don’t recognize the State of Israel's right to exist," the prime minister said.

"We will soon complete the probe and present the findings to the French government. We will discuss this issue with them, because terror is terror anywhere, and incitement is incitement that appears to be global, and its management needs to be as uniform as possible across governments," he added.

Earlier this month, Israeli lawmakes approved the so-called "NGO bill" which mandates special reporting requirements for nongovernmental organizations that get most of their funding from foreign governments, and, according to critics, disproportionately targets human rights organizations.

The law, sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with the backing of Netanyahu, requires such NGOs to list the sources for their funds in all their official publications.

Many European parliamentarians have voiced grave concern about the bill and warned that it could undermine cooperation between Israel and Europe.