Knesset enacts law requiring NGO funding transparency


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Knesset has passed a bill requiring nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to disclose funding from foreign governments.

The Foreign Government NGO Funding Transparency Bill passed Monday evening on second and third readings also requires the nonprofit groups to disclose on their advertisements which foreign governments and foundations contributed to the advertising campaigns. 

The measure also requires that the organizations disclose whether they have to take certain stances in exchange for funding.

Likud lawmaker Zeev Elkin had submitted the bill before one was submitted by the Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud parties that would establish two panels to look into the funding sources and activities of left-wing organizations. A discussion and vote on that bill has been postponed after Likud members reportedly reconsidered their support for the bill, which means it likely will not pass.

NGO Monitor applauded the passage of the transparency bill, saying that it helps protect Israeli democracy and civil society from manipulation, and provides the appropriate framework to hold foreign governments accountable for their NGO funding.

"The Knesset action reflects a broad understanding that transparency for foreign government funding of political advocacy NGOs transcends partisan ideology, and is essential to the public’s right to know and to Israeli democracy," NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg said in a statement.

"The new NGO Funding Transparency Law will shed light on the extent of foreign government involvement in Israel, and will demonstrate the failure of existing Israeli law to require funding transparency."

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