CWP Update: Knesset Bills Threaten to Restrict Israeli NGOs

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 | 11:31

June 24, 2010

CWP Update: Knesset Bills Threaten to Restrict Israeli NGOs

1. EP Meeting on the Situation of NGO’s and Civil Society in Israel

On Wednesday, 23 June 2010, the European Parliament held a meeting regarding the situation of NGOs and civil society in Israel. The Coalition of Women for Peace published a position paper, which was distributed at the EP meeting. The full position paper is attached, but please note especially the following section on 3 proposed Knesset bills that are intended to restrict the international work of Israeli NGOs, and particularly CWP:

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4.    The 3 proposed Knesset bills, attempting to restrict the work of Israeli peace and human rights organizations, are:

a.    “Disclosure Requirements for Recipients of Support from a Foreign Political Entity – 2010” (a government-backed bill, submitted on 8 February 2010, passed a preliminary vote on 17 February 2010): Under the pretext of increasing transparency of foreign funding of NGOs, this bill stipulates that organizations “seeking to influence public opinion in Israel” should be deemed as political organizations and therefore will be required to register with the Registrar of Political Parties and lose their tax-exempt status. Any spokesperson of such an organization will have to declare in all public appearances and publications that they represent an organization that receives funding from a “foreign political entity.” This bill is intended to curtail the foreign funding that Israeli peace and human rights NGOs rely on, as well as to delegitimize and intimidate these organizations.

b.    “Associations Law (Amendment – Exceptions to the Registration and Activity of an Association) – 2010” (a private bill, introduced by 19 MKs on 28 April 2010, a revised version submitted by 25 MKs on 14 June 2010) – This bill aims to prohibit the registration of, or to close down any existing NGO, if “the association was involved in, or will provide information to foreign entities regarding, legal proceedings abroad against senior Israeli government officials or military officers, for war crimes.” Universal jurisdiction, the right of national courts to prosecute foreign war criminals for atrocities committed abroad, is a central enforcement mechanism in international law. As such, this bill undermines international human rights law and the ability of Israeli NGOs to demand accountability for human rights violations committed by Israeli officials. In interviews given to the Israeli media, the MKs specifically targeted the Coalition of Women for Peace, as well as Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, Physicians for Human rights and the Committee Against Torture.

c.    “Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott – 2010” (introduced by 25 MKs from the coalition and the opposition on 9 June 2010, not yet submitted) – According to the bill, Israeli citizens must not initiate, encourage, or provide support or information for a boycott against the State of Israel; internationals who do so will be barred from entering Israel for at least 10 years; and foreign governmental entities who engage in boycott activity against Israel will be banned from engaging in any activity in Israeli bank accounts, Israeli stocks, or Israeli land and assets. This bill is a violation of the freedom of speech and freedom of association and is intended to intimidate NGOs and individuals from engaging in a nonviolent, democratic and legitimate form of political activity. This bill also directly targets CWP, due to our research project “Who Profits from the Occupation,” which provides information on Israeli and international corporate involvement in the occupation.

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The full position paper is attached. CWP would like to particularly thank our Swedish partner organization Kvinna till Kvinna, for helping us in reaching the European Parliament.

2. CWP in the Media

A few links to articles relating to CWP’s work:

Ilana Hammerman, an Israeli translator and editor and activist in one of CWP’s member organizations, might be facing trial for taking 3 Palestinian girls on a fun day out in Tel Aviv: http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/06/civil-disobedience-is-a-fun-day-out-in-tel-aviv/

“Dr. Dalit Baum and Merav Amir are waging a resolute economic battle against businesses operating beyond the Green Line. Their comprehensive study maps out all of those companies and served as the basis for the boycott throughout the world, which is expanding. In an interview with the Calcalist Supplement they explain they are not extremists — it is simply Dankner, Levayev, Arison and about a thousand other companies who are violating international law”. Ari Libsker, Calcalist: http://coteret.com/2010/06/21/maariv-targeted-boycott-and-divestment-pushing-companies-out-of-the-settlements/ (scroll down for this specific article).

“’The Coalition of Women for Peace declares its support for Italian supermarket chains COOP and Nordiconad’s decision to suspend sales of Agrexco produce in their stores, and hopes that more supermarket chains will follow in their footsteps.’ So begins the declaration of the prominent Israeli coalition of 11 feminist organizations, released in support of the Italian Stop Agrexco campaign.” Elena Hogan, Near East News Agency: http://www.nena-news.com/?p=1730

New bill attempts to outlaw boycott of settlements or Israel: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3902932,00.html

The full translation of this proposed bill is available on the “Who Profits” website: http://www.whoprofits.org/articlefiles/BDS%20LAW_Eng.htm

CWP’s declaration of support for the “Stolen Beauty” campaign: http://www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=5456

In France, the Ahava campaign comes to court. Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11341.shtml

“Yoana Gonen, from the Coalition of Women for Peace, voiced her support of the international musicians’ decisions to cancel due to Israel’s current political situation. “I hope that the BDS movement will succeed […] If this international momentum is lost, maybe we all will be doomed to more decades of occupation, siege, poverty, bombings and separation.” Alison Avigayil Ramer and Ronnie Gross, Jewlicious: http://www.jewlicious.com/2010/06/cultural-boycott-recent-cancellations-by-international-musicians-spur-debate-in-israeli-public/

In solidarity,

The Coalition of Women for Peace

http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english

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