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June 11, 2015

Israeli Leaders Mull New Rules for Foreign-Funded Nonprofits

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government is proposing legislation aimed at clamping down on nonprofit groups that take foreign donations and criticize the country's policies and actions, reports Reuters.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the draft bill, which in some forms has included a 45 percent tax on contributions from abroad unless they are approved by a government committee, targets groups she accuses of "eroding the legitimacy of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state."

While Israel has more than 30,000 registered nonprofits, supporters of tighter restrictions have focused on several dozen groups that do work related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and get money from the European Union or individual European governments. Culture Minister Miri Regev has also threatened to cut state grants to artists deemed overtly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Advocacy groups contend such measures would put Israel in the company of authoritarian states such as Russia and Egypt that have imposed controls on foreign-backed groups that challenge national policy.