Finance Minister Israel Katz (Likud) announced on Tuesday evening that organizations that “work against the interests of the state” will not be eligible to receive aid from the state’s new aid fund for civil society organizations. The announcement followed reports that Minister Katz and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Itzik Shmuli (Labor) fund awarding NIS 10,000 to NIS 400,000 to social service organizations negatively impacted by COVID-19
The fund targets non-profit organizations that work with “populations in need of assistance” and who lost more than 25% of their income. This included NGOs that work with illegal migrant workers, a fact that sparked sharp criticism from prominent south Tel-Aviv social activist Sheffi Paz and Im Tirtzu.
Tens of thousands of illegal African migrant workers currently reside in Israel, the majority of whom live in south Tel-Aviv. The state has long been searching for a solution for this issue but has faced sharp pushback by the High Court of Justice, spurred by these NGOs, many of which are funded by European governments and the US-based New Israel Fund.
In response to the criticism, the Finance Ministry issued a statement that “in light of the claim that organizations that work against the interests of the State of Israel are included in the list, Finance Minister Israel Katz has ordered to immediately halt the issuance of funds and to ensure that there are no anti-Israel groups in the list.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg welcomed the decision and said that “public funds have no business going toward organizations that work against the State of Israel.”
The decision was also welcomed by residents of south Tel-Aviv, who say that the illegal migrants workers have made their lives unbearable over the past decade, with a sharp rise in crime and drug use in their neighborhoods.