JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Israeli government could shut down left-wing NGOs that are critical of the military or call for boycotts of Israel under a bill being prepared reportedly at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin started working on the measure about five months ago, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. The legislation is set to be reviewed by legal advisers and approved by Netanyahu in the coming weeks for introduction during the Knesset’s winter session.
The bill would affect nongovernmental organizations such as Breaking the Silence, which brings former Israeli soldiers to schools and other venues inside and outside of Israel to talk about alleged abuses of Palestinians under occupation.
On Sunday, Netanyahu told a summit of Christian reporters in Jerusalem that he plans to create a parliamentary committee to investigate the funding that NGOs receive from foreign governments. In July 2016, the Knesset passed controversial legislation that requires NGOs to publicly declare their foreign government funding.
Under the NGO transparency law, NGOs that receive more than half their support from “foreign political entities” – including foreign governments or state agencies – must declare that funding and detail it every time they put out a report and advocacy literature, or speak with a public official. Left-wing human rights groups are disproportionately affected by the law.
The United States opposed the law and many European countries denounced it.