S&Ds deeply concerned about the NGO bill discussed in the Israeli Knesset
S&D Euro MPs today voiced their concerns with a highly controversial bill regarding the funding of NGOs in Israel. The bill passed with 50 votes in favour and 43 votes against in the first reading in the Israeli Knesset yesterday, and should be discussed in the second and third readings soon.
S&D Group vice-president Victor Boştinaru said:
„Israel has solid legislation in place ensuring transparency in the field of NGO funding. This should not be undermined by new legislation discriminating against certain civil society organisations while favouring others, which is unacceptable. As a vibrant civil society is a key component of Israeli democracy, we urge our fellow Israeli lawmakers to refrain from adopting any new piece of legislation that may jeopardize the work of this sector.”
S&D Group spokesperson on foreign affairs Richard Howitt added:
„Yesterday’s vote in the Knesset is an alarming sign of mounting pressure on Israeli civil society. We are strong supporters of transparency including in the field of NGO funding, but we strongly oppose state interference and manipulation in the NGO sector. In this spirit, we are deeply concerned about this bill, which goes against the basic values of democracy we share with Israel, and may also have a negative impact on EU-Israel relations, which should be avoided.
„We also follow the case of three Arab Palestinian lawmakers suspended yesterday by the Knesset’s ethics committee from all parliamentary activities except voting. We continue to strongly condemn all acts of terrorism or violence targeting or endangering civilians on both sides. At the same time, we remain strong defenders of the rights of democratically elected members of Parliament all over the world. As the Arab community in Israel could play an important role in achieving lasting peace in the Middle East, respecting Arab MKs is of particular importance. Democracy is a cornerstone of Israel’s very existence and identity, which cannot be compromised.”
Foto: REUTERS/Ammar Awad