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Weinstein Refuses to Defend Foreign Funding Bill

AG Yehuda Weinstein informed PM Netanyahu he would not represent the government's foreign funding bill in court.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/6/2011, 10:58 PM

Yehuda Weinstein
Yehuda Weinstein
Flash 90

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday he would not defend the 'associations law' that would restrict foreign funding to political NGO's should it be challenged in court.

Weinstein's stated intent to refuse to perform his duties was delivered to Netanyahu in writing. Weinstein claimed the proposed foreign funding law was "unconstitutional."

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel call responded to the news by calling on Netanyahu not to be concerned about the Weinstein's refusal to defend the so-called 'associations law.' The Forum said, if necessary, it would defend the government before the Supreme Court.

Forum Chairman Nachi Eyal added "it is up to the Knesset to distinguish good from evil - not the Attorney-General."

Legal observers note the Attorney-General's job is to represent the government position in Israel's courts even when he dissents, adding that should Weinstein refuse to rise to his duty the Prime Minister should demand his resignation.

Last week Netanyahu reversed course and decided to back the push for an 'associations law' after a confrontation with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

As a part of the Netanyahu-Lieberman compromise MKs Ophir Akunis (Likud) and Fania Kirschenbaum (Israel Beitenu) drafted a new bill that combined their original bills with the stated aim of more clearly defining which organizations are "political."

Lieberman had threatened to push Kirschenbaum's bill through over Netanyahu's objections.

The new version of the associations law divides NGOs into three categories and forbids any donations to NGO's that reject Israel's right to exist, incite racism, support violence against Israel, support trying Israeli soldiers or officials in international courts, call for boycotts of Israel, or issue calls for IDF personnel to disobey orders.

Donations from within Israel to such organizations will be subject to a 45 percent tax.

Political organizations that do not fall in the prohibited category will also have to pay a 45 percent tax on donations, barring a Knesset waiver.

Non-political organizations that receive state funding will be tax exempt and may receive unlimited donations from foreign governments