Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

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. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  2. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  3. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  4. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  5. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  6. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  7. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  8. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us