Daily Israel Report

Begin: Now We are Like Zimbabwe and Eritrea

National Security Council chief Amidror opposed bills limiting foreign funding of NGOs, prompting the ire of Likud Minister Livnat.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/13/2011, 5:21 PM

Leftist protest (file)
Leftist protest (file)
Flash 90

Politicians and other officials who opposed the ministerial decision to approve two bills limiting foreign funding of Israeli NGOs intended to reduce the influence of foreign countries on Israel's political issues,  reacted with vigor on Sunday.

National Security Council Head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror was present at the session of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and voiced opposition to the bills. The presence of the NSC head in the Committee's sessions is highly unusual and may mean that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opposes the bills.

According to another report, however, Netanyahu supports the bills and Amidror was invited by Minister Benny Begin (Likud), a fierce opponent of the proposed limitations on foreign funding of NGOs.

Amidror said that "the international community has warned us that Israel's standing as a pluralistic and democratic state will be hurt by the laws." He said he had spoken with the ambassadors of the United States, Britain and the European Union on the matter.

Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) attacked Amidror's presence in the debate.

Begin railed against the Committee's decision. “Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Uzbekistan – these are countries that have similar laws to this one," he said. "What kind of society are we living in? This law will have consequences on Israel's standing in the world,” Begin said.

Attorney Yehudah Weinstein, the Attorney General and Legal Advisor to the Government, voiced his opposition to the bills and sent his deputy, Avi Licht, to try to convince the ministers to vote them down. Licht warned that the laws could be struck down by the High Court "because they create discrimination."

Proponents of the bills note that the American Foreign Agent Act provides similar protection against foreign meddling in U.S. affairs.

Ministers for Shas abstained in the vote. Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman did not take part in the vote.

Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Independence) called the bills "dangerous and opposed to the principles of democracy."

MK Shlomo Mula (Kadima) said that the Coalition is leading "a fascist regime."