Gov't approves NGO transparency bill

Shaked hails progress of NGO bill, hits back at EU opposition by noting decision to label 'settlement goods'; 'When Europe does it it's OK.'

Ari Soffer,

Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shaked
Marc Israel Sellem/Flash 90

The so-called "Transparency Bill" has been approved by the government's Ministerial Committee on Legislation, clearing the way for a Knesset vote to make it law.

The bill, sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), would require NGOs who receive over 50% of their funding from foreign states to reveal the precise sources of their funds. The aim, its supporters say, is to curb the current practice of primarily European states who seek to undermine Israeli government policy by pouring millions into extreme-left and radical Arab Israeli NGOs.

Shaked hailed the bill's passage, insisting it will go a great way towards preserving Israeli democracy and sovereignty, and hitting out against the hypocrisy of the European Union for opposing the bill.

"The European Union Ambassador (Lars Faaborg-Andersen) expressed his opposition to the (proposed) law today, and said that in his view the law will harm democracy, and requested that Israel 'prevents acts which harm freedom of expression and assembly,'" Shaked said. "I want to calm the Ambassador and assure him that the proposed law does not harm freedom of expression at all."

"Apart from that, I actually believe that the interference of foreign states in the... policies of another state are the in fact the true danger to democracy," she continued.

"It cannot be that the European Union donates to NGOs who work in the name of the State of Israel, when in practice they are being used as a tool in the hands of foreign states to implement their policies," Shaked declared.

"The Ambassador also invoked a surprising concern regarding the 'shaming' which the (proposed) law supposedly encourages," the minister continued.

"Firstly, NGOs who adhere to their own positions needn't be ashamed of them," she responded, referring to the fact that the bill would not in any way hamper their activities but merely provide the public with greater transparency. "Secondly, it surprises me that the Ambassador and the European Union who are coming out against the law don't check their own houses, and see how the decision by the European Union regarding labeling settlement goods seeks to do precisely the same thing!

"Apparently when the decision comes from Europe and harms the livelihood of Israeli residents it is considered legitimate in practice."

"I ask all states who are interested in interfering in the internal (policies) of the State of Israel to do so openly, via accepted diplomatic channels and in an acceptable fashion," she concluded.


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