JERUSALEM – NGO Monitor today released the following statement regarding legislation, introduced by MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), which would prevent foreign government and international organization funding to NGOs in Israel:

This is another in a series of legislative proposals and debates focusing on the major impact of large-scale, often secretive foreign government funding of political advocacy NGOs.  This funding artificially amplifies the influence and power of these groups in Israeli political processes and public discourse. Additionally, many NGOs have abandoned their original mission of primarily addressing the Israeli public, and instead focus on condemning Israel – and advocating for specific policies – via international arenas.

This legislation, as with similar previous ones, reflects the deep concern among Israel’s democratically elected representatives regarding foreign government funding to NGOs that are centrally involved in delegitimization campaigns. This concern is also reflected consistently in public opinion polls.

As NGO Monitor’s detailed research and analysis have repeatedly demonstrated, the multiple legislative proposals are problematic and are probably not effective solutions. This does not mean, however, that real problems do not exist.

NGO Monitor notes that in February 2011, the Knesset adopted the NGO Funding Transparency Law (MK Ze’ev Elkin – Likud). The objective of this law is to provide Israeli democracy and civil society with the information necessary to assess the extent and impact of secret foreign government funding for a narrow group of political advocacy NGOs. Both the secrecy of these funding procedures and the external manipulation of civil society were understood to violate the accepted norms and practices among sovereign democratic nations. It remains to be seen if this law has been properly implemented.