Yesterday, 28 April 2010, nineteen members of Knesset, led by Ronit Tirosh of the Kadima party, submitted a new bill to amend the Law of Associations, entitled "Amendment of Restrictions on an Organization's Registry and Activity" 2010. If enacted, the proposed legislation would prevent the registration of a non-governmental organization (NGO) or would shut down an existing NGO, if there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the organization is providing information to foreign bodies or is involved in lawsuits abroad against senior officials in the government in Israel and/or officers in the Isareli army regarding war crimes.
This proposed bill completely contradicts the customary norms of international criminal law and international humanitarian law (IHL) to which the State of Israel is obligated. If the legislation is enacted, it would constitute an official admission by the State of Israel that it is committing war crimes, and is ordering human rights organizations in Israel to keep silent about them, to refrain from passing on information about them, and to cease assisting both the victims and the international community in working to prevent their continuation. Only a state that commits prohibited acts would be interested in such legislation. The relevant legislation that should be before the Knesset is legislation that would mandate that the government open an independent, impartial investigation or an independent commission of inquiry in accordance with the principles of international law in regard to the Cast Lead operation which took place in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.
The bill to conceal information is a continuation of an unbridled attack against human rights organizations that has taken place over the last months. It constitutes a dangerous step against the human rights organizations and anyone who opposes war crimes. The legislation also seeks, contrary to all constitutional principles, to restrict the freedom of expression and freedom of association of these organizations, and also creates public de-legitimization of their educational, legal and public role. The Goldstone Report noted that the Israeli legal system is not neutral in that it does not grant effective legal remedies to Palestinian victims. The bill to conceal information seeks to add additional obstacles for extending effective remedies to the victims, also outside of the Israeli legal system. Therefore, the main message of the proposed legislation is that the lives of Palestinians are outside of the law and justice, doomed to abandonment. Since this bill prohibits the proper reporting of suspicions of war crimes, then, if enacted by the Knesset, it would constitute additional proof, on the legal level, that the conditions exist for the exercising of universal jurisdiction that applies when there is no readiness by the relevant state to fulfill its obligations regarding the investigation of such suspicions. For this reason, the sponsors of this bill are the individuals who are entering the realm of criminality because they are seeking to prohibit the reporting of violations and are calling for and encouraging the violation of customary norms of international criminal law and international humanitarian law.
The Bill (English)