Tempers flared during a Knesset committee hearing on Wednesday which dealt with the proposed “Transparency Law”, which would require NGOs operating inside of Israel to disclose overseas sources of financial support. Former Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid), who opposes the bill, was expelled from the hearing.
State officials representing a number of foreign countries took the unusual step of requesting permission to be present during the hearing on Wednesday. At the end of Wednesday’s hearing in the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) revealed that representatives of the Dutch embassy had been present throughout the hearing.
The bill, which has raised concern among some foreign governments who make regular contributions to left-leaning NGOs inside of Israel, has been endorsed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and has earned coalition backing. The bill was originally proposed by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home).
Despite the coalition’s support for the proposal, a Justice Ministry official noted that the government did not sanction the addition of a provision requiring disclosure of foreign funding of court appeals.
“Since the proposal was not part of the original bill, the government opposes its addition,” Gael Azariel told the committee.
MK German criticized the bill, saying that since an NGO may receive many small donations from a plethora of countries but large ones from only one or two, the law “would not help us know how the donations are distributed.”
During the hearing Devorah Gonen, the mother of Danny Gonen, who was murdered in a terror attack near Dolev in 2015, called on the Knesset to curtail funding of terrorists and their families.
“These funds encourage murder,” said Gonen. “The terrorist knew he would be defended and that his family would be funded [from overseas sources]. The terrorist is still alive and his family will receive a lot of [financial] support, but I’m left with the ‘privilege’ of being a bereaved parent. Foreign countries are funding terrorism. You have to take the consequences of foreign funding [for terror] into account.”
Despite Gonen’s appeal, left-wing MKs opposed the bill.
Zionist Camp MK Zouheir Bahloul went so far as to compare US military aid to Israel for the funding for terrorist murderers.
“I sympathize with your feelings… however, the State of Israel gets billions [of dollars] from foreign countries and uses it to wage wars which kill people.”
Meretz chief Tamar Zandberg drew a similar comparison, calling newly constructed Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria ‘outposts’ of terror activity funded by the Israeli government.
“[Israeli] government funds are transferred to NGOs to construct outposts, from which terrorist activities come.”