Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Israeli MPs to resume work on NGO gag laws

The flow of information to the outside world on Israeli settler and military abuses could diminish, as the Knesset resumes work, on Monday (12 October), with NGO gag laws on its agenda.

The two NGO bills were drafted before the summer recess by members of the hard-right Jewish Home party in the ruling coalition - Bezalel Smotrich and Yinon Magal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Smotrich bill says NGOs which receive grants from foreign governments must "conspicuously indicate" their outside support on all publications and in all letters or "spoken communication" with civil servants.

They must also wear a special badge when meeting public officials.

The Magal bill says the NGOs are to be designated as "foreign agents".

They must label all publications with the phrase, which is to be "no smaller than one eighth of the page or advertising space".

It obliges them to file quarterly declarations of foreign income and of "the foreign activity which it has performed or intends to perform".

It obliges them to pay 37 percent tax on foreign grants.

The bill also says "government ministries and Israeli Defense Forces will avoid cooperation with a foreign agent", with "cooperation" designated as "among other things: the transfer of budgets, national service regulations, the organisation of conferences and symposiums, or joint publications".

'Foreign interests'

Smotrich's "rationale" is that foreign-funded NGOs shouldn't be allowed to "represent inside Israel the interests of foreign states in a non-transparent manner".

Magal says "they must present themselves as entities who explicitly represent foreign interests that do not align with the Israeli interest".

The Jewish Home party's justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, went further in June, describing foreign grants as "contaminated and corrupted money whose purpose is to subsidise self-hatred … a fifth column".

The draft laws are expected to be amalgamated in a government bill and tabled for a first reading in the coming days or weeks.

EU part-funded NGOs, such as B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, or Territorial Jerusalem, which contribute information to EU and UN diplomats, say the legislation is an attempt to "gag" their work.

Breaking the Silence said if the laws are passed it "will undermine Israel's civil society".

For her part, Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, told the European Parliament in a statement on 28 September that she "personally" voiced concern on the potential crackdown on her last visit to Israel.

She added that EU support for Israeli civil society aims to "advance the rights of vulnerable groups or minorities within Israel, notably the Arab minority" and "promote ... respect for international humanitarian law and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory".

A senior EU diplomat told this website the EU is "one of the biggest funders" of Israeli NGOs and that the laws, if passed, could damage the "atmosphere and environment" in which the NGOs work.

Violence

The Knesset session will open amid a fresh wave of violence.

On Monday morning, a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli border guard before being shot.

On Sunday, an Arab Israeli stabbed four Jewish Israelis and a Palestinian driver detonated a bomb at a roadside checkpoint. A Palestinian boy also died in clashes in Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, and an Israeli air strike killed a pregnant woman and her daughter in Gaza.

Mogherini phoned Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to appeal for "calm".

But the situation is likely to harden the NGO debate.

For its part, Breaking the Silence has highlighted that Honenu, a right-wing Israeli NGO, is channelling US donations to families of Jewish settlers convicted of murder, attempted murder, and kidnappings of Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the My Israel movement, an online group which says it has 140,000 cyber "soldiers", last month flooded the Dutch foreign ministry with signatures designed to stop B’Tselem from winning a Dutch prize, the Human Rights Tulip award.

Israel threatens EU-funded NGOs

Israel’s deputy foreign minister has told EU countries to stop funding left-wing NGOs which, she says, “blacken” Israel’s name.

EU diplomats feel helpless on Israel violence

Diplomats say normal communication channels ill-equipped to address "individual" violence, while Israeli and Palestinian officials trade blame on "incitement".

Opinion

EU should help stop Israel's NGO bill

Israeli MPs are voting on a bill designed to harm the work of EU-funded NGOs which promote human rights. Don't be fooled by what Israeli diplomats say.

EU shops to mark 'Israeli settlement' products

European retailers must say “product from … Israeli settlement” on wine, food, or cosmetics from over the green line, the Commission has said, prompting Israeli outrage.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  2. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  3. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  4. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  5. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  6. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  7. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal
  8. DUP chief says Irish backstop was 'tactic' by EU

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us