Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu Draft New Bill to Limit Foreign Funding to Israeli NGOs

New proposal replaces previous bills that have been frozen by Netanyahu; bill aims to impose 45% tax on foreign funding to Israeli human rights groups.

A new bill aimed at limiting foreign funding of Israeli non-governmental organizations was proposed by Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu on Wednesday, replacing two previous bills that have been proposed and subsequently frozen by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The new bill is an updated version of the bill previously proposed by MK Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu), which called to impose a 45% tax on foreign funding to NGOs that receive Israeli government funding.

Liebrman and Netanyahu, Tess Scheflan
Tess Scheflan

The bill calls to completely prohibit foreign funding to NGOs that deny Israel's right to exist, incite racism, support armed resistance against Israel, support putting Israeli officials on trial in international courts, calls on insubordination of the army, or those supporting boycotts on the State of Israel.

According to the proposal, all organizations that do not get funding from the Israeli government will have to pay a 45% tax on foreign funding. The organizations will be able to turn to the Finance Minister and request a tax exemption based on certain criteria, yet to be decided upon.

Those proposing the law said that organizations such as Peace Now, B'Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, and Worker's Hotline may be given tax exemptions.

On the other hand, organizations that do receive support from the Israeli government can continue to receive foreign funding with no tax exemptions.

Netanyahu recently decided to freeze the parliamentary process that would have ratified the two previous bills that were proposed to limit foreign funding of NGOs.

According to left-wing activists who spoke with members of the European Parliament this week, Europe sharply criticized the Israeli government's intent to advance the bill.

Parliament members said that if Israel discriminates against particular organizations, Europe may stop funding Israeli social organizations that do get support from the government. The European officials also warned against the deterioration of ties between Israel and Europe, should the bill be approved.