Amnesty slams reported Israeli plan to dissuade its donors

Amnesty slams reported Israeli plan to dissuade its donors
A picture taken on September 10, 2017 from Jabel Mukaber, a Palestinian neighbourhood In Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem shows the Israeli settlement of Nof Zion in the foreground, and the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the background. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Updated 12 September 2017
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Amnesty slams reported Israeli plan to dissuade its donors

Amnesty slams reported Israeli plan to dissuade its donors

JERUSALEM: Amnesty International said Tuesday it was alarmed at reports Israel was planning to target its funding in retaliation for its stance against Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The Israel Hayom daily ran a two-page story Tuesday saying the London-based rights group would be the first organization hit by a 2011 law which penalizes those who advocate boycotting the country or products from its settlements.
The freesheet, which is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon had decided to use the legislation to remove the tax-free status of donations to Amnesty’s Israel branch.
Haaretz daily said the finance ministry would summon Amnesty representatives to a hearing before implementing the change.
“The reports that the Israeli government plans to punish Amnesty International over its settlements campaign are deeply alarming,” the group said in a statement.
“While we have not been officially informed of any such action by the authorities, if true, this would be a serious setback to freedom of expression and an ominous sign for the ability of human rights NGOs in Israel to operate freely and without arbitrary interference.”
The finance ministry did not issue any statement on the issue Tuesday and did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.
Netanyahu’s government, seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history, passed legislation in March banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the Jewish state or its settlements, which are illegal under international law.
It sees the boycott movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim activists deny, saying they only want to see an end to Israel’s occupation.
Last year, Israel budgeted 118 million shekels ($32 million, 30 million euros) to fight the high-profile BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.
Amnesty said that removing its tax-exempt status would be “the latest effort by the authorities to silence human rights organizations and activists who criticize the Israeli government and call for accountability.”