MK Ilatov
MK IlatovFlash 90

The Knesset Assembly has approved the initial reading of the Foreign Agents bill, submitted by Yisrael Beytenu party chair Robert Ilatov.

The proposal was filed as an amendment to the government's Transparency bill and would require every NGO that receives funding from a foreign government to register as a foreign agent for that government. Each quarter, the organization would have to submit a report to the register of foreign agents.

In addition, all of the NGO's publications would be required to include the worlds "foreign agent" next to the group's name, and funds from foreign governments would not longer be tax-exempt.

The bill includes exceptions for institutes of higher education and hospitals.

MK Ilatov explained that "In the State of Israel today, there are dozens of organizations supported by foreign governments in exchange for pledges to advance foreign interests. Sometimes, these interests are completely at odds with those of the State of Israel."

He added: "My law will make it so this activity is no longer worth the cost and worthwhile. It's time to expose and to attack all those moles trying to hurt and destroy Israel from within."

The bill has faced opposition from left-wing parties. Notably, MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) accused Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman of being a foreign agent for Azerbaijan.

"The Yisrael Beytenu party is a foreign agent of the Azerbaijan government and receives benefits from them... When Liberman was Foreign Minister he promoted the Azerbaijan government's companies. You are working to prevent the recognition of the Armenian Holocaust because you are agents of the Azerbaijan government. You dare speak about and demand transparency from civilian social organizations? You need to answer to the police."

Liberman responded by saying, "Zehava Galon was questioned under warning by the police for 12 hours over the disappearance of tens of thousands of dollars from an organization in which she was the CEO. She also received €60,000 ($67,000 US) for a conference that never took place. The Attorney General who closed the file, due to pressure from these same organizations, said that the file was closed due to a lack of evidence, not from a lack of guilt. You were small and you remain small."

Galon threw back: "You were corrupt and you remain corrupt."