EU blasts 'Transparency Law'

European Union says that law which will require NGOs to reveal sources of foreign funding “risks undermining” Israel's values.

Ben Ariel,

European Union flags
European Union flags
Reuters

The international community on Tuesday appeared to be irked by the newly approved “Transparency Law” in Israel.

The law, approved by the Knesset Monday night by a majority of 57 to 48, is intended to bring greater transparency to NGOs by requiring them to disclose significant sources of funding from foreign governments.

Under the law, non-profit organizations or public benefit companies whose main financing comes from a foreign political entity, including state funds, will be obligated to report this in their financial statements.

Responding to the passing of the legislation, the European Union (EU) said the law “risks undermining” Israel's values.

“Last night the Israeli Knesset passed legislation specifically targeted at non-profit organizations which receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governments. The reporting requirements imposed by the new law go beyond the legitimate need for transparency and seem aimed at constraining the activities of these civil society organizations working in Israel,” said the EU statement.

“Israel enjoys a vibrant democracy, freedom of speech and a diverse civil society which are an integral part of the values which Israel and the EU both hold dear. This new legislation risks undermining these values,” it continued.

“We call upon Israel to continue to promote its active NGO sector and to refrain from actions which may complicate the space in which civil society organizations operate and which may curtail freedom of expression and association,” said the EU.

The EU had previously tried to stop the legislation from passing, when 50 members of the European Parliament penned a letter to Israeli MKs urging them to vote against it, , claiming that it "delegitimizes" and "demonizes" left-wing NGOs.

Though it applies in theory to all NGOs regardless of political hue, in practice only left-wing NGOs - in many cases groups which openly negate Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state - receive significant funding from foreign state entities, most notably from the European Union.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also reacted negatively to the new law on Tuesday, in a speech he delivered to the UN Security Council.

“I am concerned by Israel's passage of the so-called 'NGO Transparency Law' which contributes to a climate in which the activities of human rights organizations are increasingly delegitimized,” he said in the remarks which dealt with the situation in the Middle East.


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