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Israel May Toughen Law on NGOs With Foreign Funding

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The Israeli authorities are planning to toughen working conditions of the non-profit organizations in the country if more than half of their budget comes from abroad, media reported.

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If the law is adopted, employees of NGOs will be required to report foreign financing in all types of documentation, including letters and reports. They will also have to wear special badges, and any organizations that breach the new rules will have to pay a fine of 30,000 shekels (about $7,700).

In an exclusive interview with Radio Sputnik, social expert and head of the association “Peace Now” Ilan Rozenkier said that the initiative is a political maneuver on the part of the Israeli government.

“The goal is not to increase transparency (as it is being explained officially), but to try to weaken and undermine the legitimacy of these associations”, Rozenkier said.

The expert also blamed the Israeli government for the proposed initiative of wearing badges and called it “unacceptable”.

“The bill contains a provision about the compulsory wearing of special badges by NGO representatives every time they attend the Knesset. This is a new version of the Jewish star [the yellow star of shame worn by Jews during the Holocaust], which NGO members are being forced to wear in order to make the receiving of foreign funding shameful,” Rozenkier stated.

At the same time, Raphi Walden, head of the Israeli NGO “Physicians for Human Rights” argued that the new law is of discriminatory nature and is aimed at creating a negative image of non-profit organizations.

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“Many human rights organizations in Israel are actively protesting and criticizing the government for its actions that violate human rights, in particular, with regard to the colonization of the Palestinian territories. For this reason, the government is trying to present us as traitors,” Walden told Radio Sputnik.

According to Walden, the new law would violate basic principles of democracy and is hypocritical as it mainly affects human rights advocates, and does not infringe on the interests of the right-wing and ultra-right organizations which secretly receive hundreds of millions of dollars from various sponsors in Israel and abroad.

According to reports, the law will most likely affect leftist and far-left NGOs with funding from the embassies of the EU countries.

“This is hypocrisy, because many Israeli politicians such as the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and others received financial support themselves. They have received substantial funds from abroad and no one accused them of it. The same is true for the Israeli ultra-right [organizations], which annually receive funds for the colonization of Palestine,” Walden said.

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