Western pressure forces Netanyahu to stop a law affecting Palestinian associations
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped the procedures for passing the “Associations Law”, which aims to impose restrictions on left-wing and Arab organizations in Israel, and associations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that abort their activities to serve the Palestinians. Netanyahu decided to remove the relevant item from his government’s agenda.
Because of the objection of the extremists in his government, Netanyahu agreed to introduce other bills in favor of Zionism and settlement.
Political sources in Tel Aviv said that the United States of America, Germany, France and other countries have addressed Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen with an explicit request to prevent the passage of the law (Sunday) in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
The British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, and the German Foreign Minister, Analina Buerbock, contacted Cohen personally, requesting that the law be struck out. A diplomatic official in Tel Aviv said, “Germany seemed to be most disturbed by the bill, and conveyed messages in this regard through various channels.”
The German ambassador to Tel Aviv, Stephen Sipers, wrote a tweet in which he said: “The draft law is a thunderbolt. It indicates that the government intends to harm civil society, which is a vital component of the democratic values that should characterize Israel. Sweden’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, Eric Ollenhag, wrote: “Being a friend of Israel, I brought up the issue of associations to officials and advised them not to enact a law like this that is hostile to democracy and liberal values.”
The US State Department had confirmed that it is an anti-democratic law that should not have a place in Israel’s law books. The aforementioned law seeks to impose taxes on donations received by civil organizations in Israel, or by other parties, via Israel (meaning associations registered in the West Bank), which receive aid and funding from Western governments. He considers this a “personal law”, that is, it is not adopted by the government, and it must pass a preliminary reading in the Knesset, but it becomes effective only after its approval in the government.
The bill was proposed by Knesset member Ariel Kalner of the Likud party, who claimed that it came for the purpose of “reducing the influence of foreign governments in Israeli affairs, and reducing the donations received by left-wing organizations.”
According to the draft, an association or organization that receives donations from a foreign government, whether it is a public institution or a non-profit institution, will not be recognized. Associations and organizations that benefit from donations from foreign governments will also be subject to a 65 percent tax on their income, and their donors are not entitled to a tax credit either.
And “Channel 13” quoted a high-ranking Israeli official as saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu is personally dealing with this issue, in light of the concern reflected in the contacts of Israel’s allies, and that Netanyahu’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to decide what to do about it. and whether to delay payment of the bill for several weeks, or to strike it out permanently and replace it with another, smarter one.
Although Minister Cohen claimed that he responded to western officials he spoke with, that Israel rejects foreign interference in the process of enacting its laws, the aforementioned official said that Netanyahu sent reassuring messages, in which he said that he had explained to Israel’s friends in the West that the talk was taking place. About a “personal bill in its early stages.”
However, the explanation has not yet been accepted in the West, and Israeli government officials have accused the protest movement of receiving support and funding from foreign parties, including the administration of US President Joe Biden, over the “judicial coup” plan aimed at weakening and politicizing the judiciary. On previous occasions, Netanyahu has accused left-wing organizations that receive foreign funding and seek to bring down his government.
It should be noted that the protests, on Saturday evening, against the Netanyahu government and the plan to weaken the judiciary and undermine the powers of the Supreme Court, were renewed for the 21st week in a row, in Tel Aviv and 150 points in various Israeli regions, under the slogans “Yes to democracy and no to dictatorship and the policy of lying.”
Although the number of participants this Saturday was about 200,000 (it reached about 350,000 in previous weeks), its content was deeper and more intense, and large sectors began to see a relationship between the idea of destroying democracy and what is happening in the Palestinian territories. They accused the government of pushing for a regional war.
It is noteworthy that the central orator in Tel Aviv was the former Chief of Staff of the Army and former Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon, who called for stopping dialogue with the government until it completely retracted from its plan. The head of state, Isaac Herzog, who oversees the dialogue with the government and the opposition, and the opposition leaders, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, who participate in this dialogue, were accused of having “fallen into the trap of the deceiver Netanyahu.”