A Knesset ministerial panel on Sunday approved a bill that would bar national service volunteers from working with organizations that receive most of their funding from foreign governments.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation gave the go-ahead for the bill, which is seen as targeting human rights groups like B’Tselem and Americans for Peace Now, Channel 10 reported.
The bill was proposed by Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana and comes after the B’Tselem organization raised the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others by criticizing Israeli settlement policy at the United Nations Security Council in October.
Having passed the ministerial committee, the bill will now head to the Knesset plenum for a first reading with coalition support.
The bill targets organizations that get more than 50 percent of their funding from foreign governments. Many Israeli human rights groups receive money from the US and EU governments.
In October, Netanyahu vowed he would stop the group from receiving national service volunteers, even though B’Tselem noted it had just one slot for a volunteer and the position was vacant.
“Israeli democracy facilitates such shoddy and unhinged organizations as B’Tselem, but the majority of the public knows the truth,” Netanyahu said at the time.
He added that he would move to change the law of national service — undertaken by some young Israelis as an alternative to mandatory military service — in order to bar B’Tselem from the list of organizations approved for volunteer work.
The group said in response that it would not be intimidated by Netanyahu.
“We will not stoop down to the prime minister’s level. We will not be cowed and neither will the hundreds of thousands in Israel who opposed the occupation,” a statement by B’Tselem said in October. “We will continue to tell the truth: The occupation must end.”
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, uses Palestinian photographers and videographers to document the conduct of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.
In March, one of the group’s volunteers, Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, filmed IDF soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria shooting a disarmed Palestinian in the head after he carried out a stabbing attack in Hebron. That footage sparked a nationwide debate over excessive force and IDF values. The soldier is on trial.