Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Europe complains that Israel transparency NGO bill encourages attacks against human rights activists

An op-ed @ The Guardian in 2013 read: "What is striking is that everyone in the EU has lost faith in the project: both creditors and debtors, and eurozone countries, would-be members and "opt-outs"".  Three years later, nothing seems to have changed.  José Ignacio Torreblanca, one of the authors of the Guardian op-ed, has a piece in Le Figaro where, in a reference to Professor Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers, he  compares the current situation to 1914 and warns that the EU - in a mix of arrogance and incompetence - could be sleepwalking to disaster. In spite of things going so badly, the EU's obsession is Israel, i.e. Israel-bashing.   And it comes as no surprise that two of the five signatories are Belgian: Guy Verhofstadt and Philippe Lamberts.

The Jerusalem Post reports:
[...] A Rivlin representative confirmed on Sunday a report in Haaretz, stating that the five heads of four factions that together comprise nearly half of the European Parliament have warned against passage of the controversial NGO bill. That bill requires Israeli nongovernmental organizations to report sources of foreign funding, which they say could harm Israel’s relations with the European Union. 

In a letter to Rivlin, the five signatories – Gianni Pitella, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats; former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe; Philippe Lamberts and Rebecca Harms, co-chairmen of the Greens-European Free Alliance; and Gabrielle Zimmer of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – said that the bill introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with the support of Netanyahu encourages attacks against human rights activists.

The letter also stated that the signatories view Israel as “an important partner for the EU,” and emphasized that Israeli and European societies share common vision and values.

The letter noted the European Parliament’s friendly relations with the Knesset, plus the ongoing cooperation with a wide range of Israeli civil society organizations.

They expressed concern over reports of harassment and discriminatory action against some of these civil society organizations, and attempts to delegitimize the work of these organizations.

In conclusion, the signatories asked Rivlin as a person strongly committed to democracy, fundamental freedoms and human rights to raise his voice against the NGO Bill, and to stand alongside civil society activists.
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