Israeli panel backs tax on donations to groups urging boycott

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2013 11:22 AM
Israeli panel backs tax on donations to groups urging boycott

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli government committee gave initial approval on Sunday to a proposed law that would impose a 45 percent tax on overseas donations made to non-profit groups critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

The draft bill, presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right political allies, would apply to financial support given to organizations that support measures including a boycott or sanctions on Israel, or prosecution of its soldiers in international courts.

Such funding, authors of the legislation say, constitutes foreign interference in internal Israeli affairs and challenges Israel's sovereignty.

Critics of the proposal say it violates freedom of speech in the Jewish state, and Israel's attorney general advised the government's committee on legislation not to approve it.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she would appeal the committee's 8-4 vote in favor of the measure in the full cabinet, a move that could block its presentation to parliament for approval.

Writing on her Facebook page, Livni said such "dangerous legislation ... would isolate Israel and make it harder for its allies to stand by its side".

(Reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Will Waterman)