On July 11 Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, passed a law to restrict the activities of civil society organisations (CSOs) dependent on international sources of funding. The so called ‘transparency law’ requires Israeli CSOs receiving over 50% of their funding from international sources such as international aid agencies, CSOs, multilateral agencies and the United Nations to indicate this on every document, website, sign or publication that they issue and in all communication with officials.
In an interview conducted with CIVICUS in September last year, an Israeli human rights defender expressed concern that these legislative moves were afoot in the country, with the intention to silence dissent and to de-legitimise organisations advocating for the rights of the Palestinian community in the occupied territories.
CIVICUS is concerned about this blatant attempt to target CSOs uncovering information about human rights violations. Informed sources on the ground have told CIVICUS that the ‘transparency law’ will not be used against right wing and pro-settler CSOs that normally receive private donations from abroad, but against those seeking accountability for human rights violations committed by Israeli authorities.
Several Israeli CSOs provided information to the UN Gaza Inquiry Report, which concluded that there was substantial information that pointed to the possible commission of war crimes committed in 2014 by both Israeli and Palestinian armed groups.
CIVICUS believes that the passing of the NGO law is part of a wider trend by the Israeli government to de-legitimise CSOs and others seeking to challenge majoritarian views. In addition to undermining Israeli democracy, the law also sets a poor international and regional precedent.
The European Union has already expressed concern over the passing of the law, stating that Israel risks undermining shared values with the EU of vibrant democracy, freedom of speech and diverse civil society.