Israeli ministers vote on bill 'targeting human rights groups'

Critics say the bill unfairly targets leftwing organisations critical of Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 27 December 2015 23:42 GMT
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Ayelet Shaked, Israel's justice minister, sponsored the bill
Ayelet Shaked, Israel's justice minister, sponsored the bill (GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Cabinet ministers have given parliamentary approval to a bill imposing new controls on human rights groups receiveing funding from abroad.

Critics say the bill unfairly targets leftwing organisations critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government policies towards the Palestinians.

Pro-government and nationalistic nonprofit organisations tend to rely on private donors, who are exempt from the measures under the bill.

Government ministers have agreed to the bill in principal, making it almost certain it will pass into law.

Communities divided by Israel separation wall

The Guardian reports EU officials said: “Israel should be very careful about reigning in its prosperous democratic society with laws that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes”.

The bill, sponsored by Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked, requires organisations which receive more than half of their funds from foreign governments to declare their sources of fudning in reports and parliamentary decisions.

Their activists will also be required to wear special tags when working in Israel's parliament.

It is also likely to further strain relations between Israel and the EU. Israeli leaders were outraged over the EU's decision to require labels on imported products made in West Bank settlements.

"If the minister of justice is truly interested in transparency, she must first and foremost promote legislation requiring right-wing organizations to expose the millions they receive from private donors abroad and from the state budget," said Peace Now, a group opposing Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians.

Adalah, a group that promotes the rights of Israel's Arab minority, said the plan to make groups wear special tags "is an act of humiliation and incitement."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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