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Israeli panel backs tax on donations to groups urging boycott

Source: Reuters - Sun, 15 Dec 2013 04:19 PM
Author: Reuters
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* Netanyahu's far-right allies proposed new measure

* Israel's justice minister says new law will isolate Israel

* Bill would tax foreign donations to critical groups

JERUSALEM, Dec 15 (Reuters) - An Israeli government committee gave initial approval on Sunday to a proposed law that would impose a 45 percent tax on overseas donations made to non-profit groups critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

The draft bill, presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right political allies, would apply to financial support given to organisations that support measures including a boycott or sanctions on Israel, or prosecution of its soldiers in international courts.

Such funding, authors of the legislation say, constitutes foreign interference in internal Israeli affairs and challenges Israel's sovereignty.

Critics of the proposal say it violates freedom of speech in the Jewish state, and Israel's attorney general advised the government's committee on legislation not to approve it.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she would appeal the committee's 8-4 vote in favour of the measure in the full cabinet, a move that could block its presentation to parliament for approval.

Writing on her Facebook page, Livni said such "dangerous legislation ... would isolate Israel and make it harder for its allies to stand by its side". (Reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Will Waterman)

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