Israel's parliament has approved a new law that forces NGOs to disclose foreign government funding in all their official publications, a parliamentary statement said Tuesday. 

Critics had campaigned against the bill for months, charging that it targets especially liberal advocacy groups and seeks to "silence" any human rights organizations or activists who do not follow the conservative government line.

The transparency law was approved by lawmakers in a 57-48 vote late Monday, according to Israel's parliament, known as the Knesset. Fifteen lawmakers in the 120-seat house abstained or were not present.

The legislation was sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the conservative Jewish Home coalition party, which supports the West Bank settlement movement.

It demands that all NGOs specify the names of the foreign governments from which they receive funding in anything they publish.

It applies to all groups that receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments. NGOs that violate the law will be fined 29,200 shekels (7,500 dollars), the Knesset statement read.

A highly controversial clause in the bill forcing representatives of foreign-government-sponsored groups to wear special badges when visiting the Knesset had been removed by the draft committee earlier.

Critics said that rule would have singled out representatives of NGOs critical of the Israeli government, and some compared it to Jews having had to wear yellow Star of David badges in Nazi-occupied Germany.  

The critics argue that the law disproportionately targets NGOs on the political left, such as B'Tselem, which documents alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians, and Breaking the Silence, which publishes critical soldiers' testimonies of Israeli military practices against the Palestinians.

Nationalist groups on the other side of the political spectrum are mainly funded through private donations, which must not be declared under the new law.

The authors wrote in a preface that the law sought "to deal with the phenomenon of NGOs in Israel, who represent in a non-transparent manner the outside interests of foreign states, while pretending to be a domestic organization concerned with the interests of the public."

"Imagine that Israel were to fund extra-parliamentary organizations in Britain that supported Brexit, that were interfering in domestic affairs in Britain. What would happen then? Our ambassador would be called in immediately for a dressing down, because Britain's has its national dignity in tact," said Shaked, the bill's sponsor.

Rejecting the criticism, she added: "Our heads are bowed no longer. This law is about nothing more than transparency."

But opposition leader Isaac Herzog, of the centre-left Labour Party, charged that the law "symbolizes the budding fascism that is rising and flourishing in Israeli society."

The rule, whose full title is the Transparency Requirements for Parties Supported by Foreign State Entities Law, will go into effect in January 2017 and only apply to donations received from then on.

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.