Report: Israel in Bad Company With Efforts to Limit NGOs

Right-wing legislators are reviving initiative for parliamentary inquiry into funding sources of Israel human rights groups; International Center for Not-for Profit Law study says if bill passed Israel restrictions on NGO's will be on par with Sudan and Iraq.

If the bill restricting the ability of human rights groups to raise funds abroad is passed in the Knesset, Israel will find itself in line with Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study by the International Center for Not-for Profit Law.

Rightist legislators this week revived the initiative for parliamentary inquiry into the funding sources of Israeli human rights organizations. The move comes in the wake of the Boycott Law, passed in the Knesset on Sunday. Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu MKs said this week they would bring the initiative, spearheaded by MK Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu ) for a Knesset vote next week.

The study conducted by the International Center for Not-for Profit Law finds a correlation between the restrictions certain states impose on nonprofit organizations' activity and funding - especially foreign funding - and the distance between these states from the Western model of democracy.

The study shows that between 2003 and 2008, legislation intended to restrict NGOs' freedom of activity by denying them foreign contributions was enacted or proposed in 20 states, including Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ) said yesterday his party was determined to thwart this legislation.

"Yisrael Beiteinu is deepening the hole we dug this week, turning us into Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia," he said, calling for an effort to "thwart the initiative to set up parliamentary investigation panels."