UN rights council says Israel impedes human rights groups


UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay appears on a TV screen at the opening of a session of the United Nation Human Rights Council on February 27, 2012 in Geneva. Pillay recently added Israel to a list of countries that restrict human rights groups.


Fabrice Coffrini

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, on Wednesday added Israel to a list of countries that restrict the freedom of human rights groups, according to Haaretz.

The list included other countries, such as Cambodia, Venezuela, Belarus, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe. It also included Egypt, which recently emerged from an international kerfuffle over American-backed NGOs operating there. 

More from GlobalPost: 8 US-based civil society groups barred from working in Egypt: report

But the Commissioner added Israel to the list based on a law that was supported by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu but never passed by the Knesset due to a legal analysis that predicted it would be struck down by the country's highest court. 

"Although the law never reached the Knesset, Pillay said in her statement: 'In Israel, the recently adopted Foreign Funding Law could have a major impact on human rights organizations, subjecting them to rigorous reporting requirements, forcing them to declare foreign financial support in all public communications, and threatening heavy penalties for non-compliance,' " Haaretz wrote.

In March, Israel's foreign ministry, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, cut ties with the Human Rights Council due to its establishment of an inquiry into the human righst implications of West Bank settlement, according to GlobalPost.

"A senior source in the Foreign Ministry said Israel's inclusion in Pillay's statement was a direct outcome of Lieberman's move," Haaretz wrote.

"This was a mistake and now we see the results," the source said.