WASHINGTON (JTA) – Israel’s Foreign Ministry criticized as "absurd" the country’s inclusion on a list of countries that restrict the activities of human rights and advocacy groups.
Monday’s response came after the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights placed Israel on a list that includes Egypt, Belarus, Venezuela, Algeria and Ethiopia. Israel is the only democratic country to appear on the list; the rest are either dictatorships or developing countries.
Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner, said in a statement that the listing was due to the potential bill in the Knesset that would restrict the funding by foreign governments of nonprofit organizations. The bill was approved by a ministerial committee but never reached the full Knesset for a vote.
"In Israel, the recently adopted Foreign Funding Law could have a major impact on human rights organizations, subjecting them to rigorous reporting requirements, forcing them to declare foreign financial support in all public communications, and threatening heavy penalties for non-compliance,” Pillay said in a statement issued late last week.