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      Netanyahu Seeks to Reword, Water Down NGO Bill

      Prime Minister Netanyahu looking at rewording the bill which limits the funding that political NGOs may receive from foreign bodies.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/1/2011, 10:29 AM

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      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is looking at rewording and watering down the proposed NGO bill, which limits the funding that political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may receive from foreign governments and international bodies.

      According to a report on Channel 2 News on Wednesday, Netanyahu has asked Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser to look at rewording the law so that it would distinguish between three types of NGOs.

      The first group will be absolutely prohibited to accept any donations from foreign countries. It would include NGOs that support refusal to serve in the IDF, boycotts of Israel or an armed struggle against Israel. This group would include NGOs such as Adalah and Yesh Gvul.

      The second group, consisting of purely welfare and educational organizations such as Magen David Adom and the Hebrew University, will be allowed to receive unlimited contributions.

      Organizations in the third group are political in nature and will be required to pay a 45% tax for contributions they receive, unless their heads come before the Knesset for a hearing and are exempted from the tax. NGOs in this group would include the radical left Peace Now, B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights.

      The Ministerial Committee for Legislation had voted to support a bill limiting the funding received by NGOs to 20,000 IS per year, as well as a bill that would deprive NGOs that rely on foreign funding of tax exempt status.

      While the nationalist camp in Israel praised the original bills, the leftist camp is fighting the bills furiously, as their power comes from foreign funding. Foreign funding is the source of many of the left's public relations campaigns and lobbying groups. Proponents of the bil say that NGOs in Israel effectively act as proxies for the agendas of international organizations and foreign governments - such as Britain, Norway, and the European Union, who grant millions to anti-Zionist and leftist groups - in Israel.

      The amended law is expected to be submitted for government approval within ten days and is expected to receive a majority.