US demands Netanyahu shelve NGO financing bill as precondition to meet Biden

Middle East Monitor  /  May 29, 2023

The US administration has demanded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shelves a controversial bill aimed at curbing the activities of civil society organizations, as a precondition to meet with US President Joe Biden, Israeli media outlets reported on Sunday.

The Israeli Army Radio said senior White House officials have delivered a message to Netanyahu’s office stating “If you are interested in meeting with Biden [in Washington] and you are interested in assistance from the president to promote normalization with Saudi Arabia, remove the bill that would harm civil society organizations activities from the agenda”.

Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Knesset member Danny Danon, said Netanyahu will visit the White House in September.

On 2 May, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby, announced that Biden will invite Netanyahu to visit Washington, but stressed that “the visit’s date is still unknown.”

Almost six months have passed since the Israeli government was formed, yet Netanyahu has not yet received an invite from Biden to visit the White House, over his proposed judicial reform plan.


Reports: Netanyahu shelves NGOs financing bill after international criticism

Middle East Monitor  /  May 29, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has frozen a controversial bill aimed at curbing the activities of non-profit civil and human rights organizations following significant criticism from the United States and prominent European countries.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday that the bill will not be put to a vote before the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs as planned on Sunday, but will be put up for discussion as a largely symbolic measure.

The proposed bill seeks to impose a 65 per cent tax on funding received by organizations and associations from foreign governments.

The German Foreign Ministry has strongly criticized the draft bill, warning that its passing would harm relations with Israel.

The US administration and other Western countries have also criticized it, warning against harming civil society organizations.

Israel’s Ynet news site also indicated that British Foreign Minister James Cleverly has called his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen, and demanded that he refrain from passing the bill.