Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
MK Bezalel Smotrich (2R) during Knesset committee debate

The Knesset Finance Committee on Monday debated MK Bezalel Smotritch’s (Habayit Hayehudi) bill to prevent tax exempt status recognition of an NGOs working to bring IDF soldiers to trial abroad.

Presenting his bill, MK Smotrich said, “A normal state does not support and finance those who act against it, and the bill will not permit tax benefits to those who act to harm IDF soldiers abroad. The benefit will only be granted to groups whose main activity is for the benefit of Israel’s citizens and residents.”

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Smotrich added that, “out of a sense of responsibility for Diaspora Jewry, I would also like to extend [tax exemptions] to organizations that are working to strengthen ties with Diaspora Jewry.”

The bill awards a tax exemption for as much as 35% of the sum of the donation to the groups it sanctions.

According to Smotrich, two years ago the condition for obtaining the permit was that most of the organization’s activities were carried out for the benefit of the residents of the State of Israel. But during the tenure of Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) as Finance Minister, the definition of a recognized organization was changed to that one which operates “in connection with the State of Israel,” to include anti-Zionist non-profit groups.

The explanatory notes accompanying the bill note that “tax exemption on donations constitutes a kind of funding by the citizens of the state of the groups that operate in the public arena, and should be given to groups working to benefit the citizens of Israel.”

“The Citizens of Israel should not have to fund activities that are not carried out for their benefit,” the notes add. “Of course, they can do so of their own free will, but they cannot be forced to do so through the government tax system.”

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