Left-wing Israeli NGOs violate transparency laws: watchdog group

NGOs that are largely funded by European and other foreign entities regularly flout Israeli law on their annual reports but are not held accountable.

By World Israel News Staff

A number of left-wing Israeli NGOs, including B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, regularly violate Israel’s transparency laws around revealing the sources of their foreign funding via timely annual reports and should be subject to millions of shekels in fines, according to a new report from a watchdog group.

“In Israel, there are NGOs that receive most of their funding from foreign governments, mainly European, as well as [from] the United Nations and the European Union. Between 2012 to 2021, NGOs that are usually identified as leftist and many that are far-left groups have received more than 750 million shekels in foreign funding,” said Alon Schvartzer, head of the Research Division of Zionist NGO Im Tirtzu in a statement.

But despite the massive sums received by these organizations, they are not properly disclosing basic information on their funding or turning in their annual reports on time, which is in direct violation of Israeli law, Im Tirtzu charged.

In 2011, the Knesset passed the Transparency Law, which mandated that NGOs supported by foreign entities must reveal the exact amount of monetary aid they received, no matter how small, on a quarterly basis.

In 2016, the law was amended to include that NGOs that receive the majority of their support from foreign entities must make that expressly clear in their annual reports. Any advertising by the NGO, such as on billboards, their websites, or TV ads, must also include a disclaimer that they are mostly funded by foreign bodies.

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In an expansive review of left-wing NGOs’ annual reports to the Israeli government, Im Tirtzu found that the organizations regularly flouted regulations and were often in direct violation of Israeli law.

For example, on average, these NGOs submitted their reports nine months after the deadline. Under Israeli law, NGOs that fail to turn in annual reports on time are subject to stiff penalties.

Peace Now, Yesh Din, and Adalah organizations should each be subject to three to four million shekels in fines due to the late reports, according to Im Tirtzu.

Im Tirtzu noted that not one penalty has been levied against these foreign-funded groups for breaking Israeli law.

Schvartzer added that they “received confirmation from the Justice Ministry stating that our complaints are correct,” but despite widespread knowledge of the problem, no steps were taken to hold the NGOs accountable.

“Sadly, it demonstrates how NGOs who receive foreign government funding will not be disciplined nor sanctioned.”