Israel: controversial bill for NGOs passes first reading in Parliament
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center-right) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (left) during the session of the Knesset in Jerusalem. (AFP/File)
A 'chilling' and controversial bill that would stipulate that NGOs funded by foreign governments to declare it in official reports passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament early Tuesday.
The proposed bill, which has been criticized for potentially encouraging a witch-hunt against leftiwing organizations that campaign for the defense of Palestinian rights, successfully passed its first reading with 50 votes in favor and 43 against following a tense debate.
For the bill to pass and become law, two more readings of the bill by the Knesset (Israeli parliament) are required.
Ayelet Shaked, Justice Minister, proposed the law, claiming it will promote transparency and enable the government to fend off foreign interference and attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel. Shaked added the bill does not target any specific NGO.
The proposed law has drawn widespread international criticism, with the both U.S. and EU ambassadors to Israel expressing concern over its implications.
The bill does not single out leftist organisations in its text, however they are the groups that will be most impacted as right-wing NGOs supporting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank mostly rely on private donations, particularly from the United States.
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