Netanyahu wants NGO funding transparency during elections

A proposed law would require full disclosure of the identities of all donors to NGOs during election periods.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving to prevent his opposition from hiding funding sources during the next elections, Israel Hayom reports.

The law, which has been discussed with nearly all coalition heads, would require all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to publish their donor lists during elections.

According to the report, Netanyahu told his colleagues that left-wing parties looking to topple him have already contacted foreign tycoons with deep pockets willing to invest millions of dollars via groups that would mask their funding sources.

One coalition member explained the proposed law’s effect: “Let’s say, hypothetically, that if such an organization would put out an ad, they’d have to write on it, ‘paid for by George Soros.’”

The proposed bill would supplement the amendment to the Party Financing Law called the “V15 law,” which was passed to limit the ability of outside organizations to finance Israeli electoral campaigns.

The V15 Law, passed in March 2017, was so named because an organization, V15, made huge contributions to left-wing parties before the last elections in an effort to unseat the Likud.

The law defined for the first time “active campaigning bodies” that are not directly linked to a party or political movement.

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Groups that raise over NIS 400,000 now have to register with the state as a corporation, report their donations and provide financial oversight.

There are also restrictions on the amounts that any individual donor is allowed to contribute, and only up to one third of all donations can come from abroad.

The need for greater transparency also drove an NGO law passed in 2016 which requires all NGOs that receive over half of their funding from foreign political bodies to post their names on a Non-Profit Registrar’s website.