While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday night that his Likud party would support a law that would prohibit non-profit political organizations from receiving contributions from foreign governments, Yisrael Beiteinu believes it has a better idea: Allowing groups to receive contributions, but placing an onerous tax of 45% on them.
The law prohibiting contributions altogether is actually co-sponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu MK Robert Iliatov, and party chairman Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has expressed support for it. The taxation bill is being sponsored by MK Faina Kirschenbaum, also from Yisrael Beiteinu.
The Likud has not yet said if it was going to support the latter bill as well, but Yisrael Beiteinu said that it would demand that the Ministerial Law Committee approve both bills for Knesset consideration at its next meeting on Sunday.
Although the law would apply to all organizations, the ones that will be most hurt by the tax will be leftist political groups, as rightwing groups subsist mostly on private contributions, which the two laws do not cover. Most of the money that will be affected consists of donations by European governments to leftist groups, MKs said.
While some media commentators sought to detect a spirit of vote hustling by Yisrael Beiteinu in the introduction of the second proposal (the law banning contributions altogether was co-sponsored by Likud MK Ofer Akunis, along with Iliatov), and an attempt to appear more “authentically rightwing” than the Likud, party MKs said that the two bills had actually been drawn up by members of various parties in the coalition, and were meant to be introduced together, to ensure that at least one of them could be passed into law.
“There is a possibility that the High Court could strike down the law banning contributions altogether, and non-profits can claim that they use some of the money not for political organization, but for assisting the needy – and it certainly wouldn't be appropriate to ban money for humanitarian purposes in these tough times,” said one Yisrael Beiteinu MK. “But with the tax bill we have more options, such as refunding the money to organizations that actually help people. Regardless,” the MK added, “we are going to put a stop to the 'buying' of Israeli leftist groups by foreign governments to carry out an anti-Israel agenda, one way or the other.”