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Israel plans law to curb pro-Palestine NGOs
January 17, 2016
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TEL AVIV: A new Israeli bill targeting left-wing NGOs has prompted comparisons with the climate of hatred two decades ago and drawn criticism from rights groups, Washington and the European Union.

At the heart of the storm over a bill that the United States has warned could have “chilling” repercussions are long-established leftist Israeli organisations with strong international reputations.

Peace Now promotes the creation of a Palestinian state, B’Tselem documents violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, while Breaking The Silence is run by former soldiers opposed to Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Such organisations which challenge government policies are increasingly accused by those on the right in Israel of forming a “fifth column” operating against the state and acting as agents of foreign powers.

Left-wing organisations are now under threat from a bill proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party.

The text has renewed tension between one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history and the United States and the European Union.

The draft law demands that NGOs receiving more than half of their funding from foreign governments declare it in all their official reports, while their representatives should wear a special badge during visits to parliament.

The text does not specifically refer to leftist organisations, but they are the ones it would impact.

Comparisons have been made with the polarisation of Israeli society at the time of the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a rightwing Jewish extremist opposed to peace with the Palestinians.

“In some ways it is worse” than during Rabin’s time, Hagai El-Ad, executive director at B’Tselem, said.

“The situation has dramatically changed since 20 years ago. The number of politicians that reflect the values we strive to see is dramatically smaller.”

The anti-settlement Peace Now organisation has produced a report on the lack of transparency in the funding of nine leading rightwing organisations.

The bill is “a heinous crime against democracy,” Anat Ben Nun from Peace Now said.

“Under the pretext of transparency, the government is trying to delegitimise anyone who does not share its views or opposes its policies.”

Agence France-Presse

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