The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to support a bill limiting the funding that political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may receive from foreign governments and international bodies to NIS 20,000 shekels. The bill was authored by MKs Ofir Akunis and Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) .
The Committee also voted in favor of a bill submitted by MK Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beitenu) that would deprive NGOs that rely on foreign funding of tax exempt status and levy a 45% tax on foreign donations. The limitation would not be applied to NGOs that also receive government funding, so that educational and social welfare NGOs will still be tax-exempt.
The ministers supporting the bills included Limor Livnat, Gilad Erdan, Yossi Peled, Gidon Sa'ar and Moshe Cachlon (Likud), Yitzchak Aharonovich, Sofa Landver, Yuli Edlestein and Stes Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu) and Daniel Hershkovitz (Jewish Home).
The leftist camp in Israel is extremely upset by the bills, which would deprive it of much of its power. Foreign funding is the source of many of the left's public relations campaigns and lobbying groups.
Proponents of the bills note that the American Foreign Agent Act provides similar protection against foreign meddling in U.S. affairs. Opponents say the bills are anti-democratic and stifle free speech.