Bill to limit Israeli human rights groups’ funding stalled by Prime Minister 22Nov11 November 22, 2011

IMEMC  -  21 November 2011

Unnamed Israeli sources in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office told Israeli reporters on Sunday that a bill to severely restrict funding to Israeli human rights groups, which was passed by the Israeli Knesset last week, has been stalled by the Prime Minister’s office.

Israeli human rights groups, many of which work to document Israeli abuses in the Palestinian Territories, have faced increased scrutiny and crackdowns by the Israeli government over the last year, which the rights’ groups say are blatant attempts to limit and prohibit their freedom of speech.

The bill passed last week by the Legislative Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) is by far the most draconian – since most of these groups receive funding from abroad, the bill would essentially shut down a large portion of the human rights and peace groups in Israel.

According to the Israeli sources, the move by Prime Minister Netanyahu to stall the process of implementation will indefinitely postpone the implementation of the law.

Human rights groups targeted by the bill have been preparing a legal case to challenge the law if it were to go into effect. Although Israel has no constitution, and thus the law cannot be deemed ‘unconstitutional’, the Jewish state does have a set of basic principles that members of the human rights groups claim would be violated by the new law.

Ofir Akunis, the Knesset Member who originally proposed the law, had previously been asked by the Prime Minister’s office to re-work some of the language of the bill then re-submit it for consideration. Akunis says that the current delay will not stop the law, which he intends to push for at both a legislative and Cabinet level.

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