Amnesty International
Amnesty InternationalReuters

Finance Ministry Director-General Shlomi Heizler summoned Amnesty International's Israel branch to a hearing before a decision to revoke its tax benefits in light of the fact that the organization calls for a boycott and arms embargo on Israel, and therefore is in violation of the Boycott Law, Israel Hayom reported on Monday.

According to the report, in the summons letter, Heizler noted the complaints against Amnesty Israel, while trying to refute an argument for the differences between calls by Amnesty International and its Israeli branch.

Among other things, it was noted that the organization published Amnesty International's call for an arms embargo on Israel and a boycott of sites in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem by tourism companies on its website.

"All of Amnesty International's calls appear on Amnesty Israel's website and are in practice published by it in a way that constitutes the knowing publication of calls to boycott Israel," the ministry director-general wrote.

Heizler noted that "reading Amnesty Israel's website, one finds that there is a total intermingling between Amnesty International and Amnesty Israel, and it is not always clear what the difference between them is. Thus, the donations page shows the Amnesty International logo, includes the recognition of the organization under section 46 of the Israeli Tax Code, and describes the operations of Amnesty International. It is impossible to discern who receives the donations - the central organization or its branch. In this regard, the organization is asked to address the matter of the donation destination and to explain how a reasonable donor does not assume that his donation reaches Amnesty International."

In July 2023, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich ordered the Tax Authority to open an inquiry into revoking Amnesty's tax benefits. Last month, a consultation team, led by the director-generals of the Finance and Foreign Ministries, was appointed to look into the factual basis of the move.

Now, the Finance Ministry Director-General asked to hear the organization's response before he suggests to the Minister to revoke its benefits according to the Boycott Law. The law allows the Finance Minister, following consultation with the Justice Minister and authorization by the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, to revoke the tax benefits of organizations that publicly call for the boycott of Israel.

According to the summons letter, 80% of the Israeli organization comes from Amnesty International: "The scope of the funding attests to the fact that Amnesty Israel relies on Amnesty International's funding. Therefore questions arise regarding Amnesty Israel's independence which is manifested in the intentional blurring of the line between the Israeli organization and the international one when it comes to Amnesty International's calls against Israel."