Israeli lawmakers approve bill targeting left-wing groups

Jerusalem, Dec 27 (IANS) Israeli ministers on Sunday voted unanimously in favour of adopting a controversial “transparency bill” targeting left-wing non-governmental organisations, perceived by human right groups as an undemocratic “witch hunt”.

The bill, proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (the Jewish Home), requires non-profit organisations that receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments to note so in their publications and orders these groups’ representatives to wear special tags while visiting the Knesset (parliament), Xinhua reported.

Opponents of the law, among them left-wing lawmakers as well as foreign bodies, state the law unfairly targets left-wing groups, which will be almost exclusively affected by it, rather than right-wing groups, that receive funds from private foreign donors.

Groups that violate these terms will get a fine up about $8,000.

The European Union voiced its opposition to the bill, saying Israel “should be very careful about reigning its prosperous democratic society with laws that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes,” the Ynet news website reported on Sunday.

Furthermore, the Ha’aretz daily reported recently that German lawmakers also expressed their opposition to Israeli officials in the past several weeks.

On Saturday evening, dozens of left-wing activists protested against the bill across Shaked’s house in Tel Aviv, calling the bill a “witch hunt” that is aimed at silencing criticism on Israel by left-wing organisations.

“This bill seeks to mark human rights organisations that express different views and criticizes the government’s policies,” Adalah, the legal center for Arab minorities in Israel, that will also be influenced by the bill, said in a statement.

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