London, 26 May 2023- A new private members’ bill in the Knesset will be tabled for consideration on Sunday 28thMay, which would result in NGOs being forced to pay a 65% tax on donations, if they receive any funding from foreign governments or international organisations like the EU. The bill would undermine the work of humanitarian and human rights organisations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
If passed, the anti-NGO bill would cripple the ability of human rights and humanitarian organisations to operate in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, as many rely on funding from foreign governments and international organisations such as the European Commission and EU Council.
The bill would impose a 65% tax on financial support to non-profit organisations from ‘foreign state entities’, which includes states, unions of states, a municipality in a foreign country, their organs, and also the Palestinian Authority. As well as the tax, non-profits receiving donations from foreign state entities will lose their status as a public institution and lose eligibility for tax exemptions.
According to a briefing by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Law and Philanthropy, an introduction of taxation against organisations providing aid would mean Israel were breaking international precedent of state practice towards international aid organisations, by disincentivising donors and disrupting resources of humanitarian relief and human rights protection.
The international community has pushed back against the bill, including Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, who said, ‘The draft bill on NGO taxation is a matter of grave concern to us and to many of Israel’s international partners.’ The Belgian, Dutch, Finnish, Irish, Norwegian, and Swedish embassies also expressed their concern, but the United Kingdom has made no comment on the anti-NGO bill.
The bill was tabled by Ariel Kallner MK, a member of Likud, the largest party in the current Israeli coalition government. On Sunday, 28th May 2023, the private members bill will be put forward to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for consideration, who will decide whether the government will support its passage through the Knesset. The committee is made up of 14 ministers, all members of the government, and it is chaired by Yariv Levin MK (Likud), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. The committee is co-chaired by Itamar Ben Gvir MK, Minister of National Security and leader of Otzuma Yehudit.
ICJP Director Tayab Ali said:
‘This is being carried out with the clinical and brutal efficiency of a military tactic, except the target is crucial humanitarian aid groups. This bill is designed to cut off vital supply lines, so that humanitarian and human rights NGOs don’t have the resources to provide vital aid to Palestinians and to hold Israel accountable for its numerous human rights violations.
This bill is cynical and cruel. There is no big conspiracy about international organisations using aid to undermine Israel. Their work is simply about protecting people and saving lives – it is really lacking in humanity to so directly and brazenly disrupt the work of aid groups.
British diplomats and government officials should follow the suit of European counterparts and condemn this Orwellian legislation.’
Notes to Editors:
1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
2. For further information on the details of the bill, please see attached this briefing from the Institute for Law and Philanthropy at Tel Aviv University: Democracy in Crisis: Shrinking Space for Civil Society. Democracy in Crisis: Shrinking Space for Civil Society in Israel: Bill to amend the Income Tax ordinance (Taxing a donation from a foreign state entity) 2023.
3. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact: Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, at [email protected]