Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Israel threatens EU-funded NGOs

  • Israeli settler graffiti in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

Israel’s deputy foreign minister has told EU countries to stop funding left-wing NGOs which, she says, “blacken” Israel’s name.

Tzipi Hotovely issued the warning in a series of meetings with senior EU diplomats in Israel in recent days, according to Israeli media.

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She told the Arutz Sheva website on Tuesday (21 July): “We are demanding from European states that donate millions of euros to immediately stop the direct funding of delegitimisation organisations, that [act] under the guise of human rights organisations”.

Israel's Ynetnews quoted her as saying the EU-funded groups: “Work to blacken its [Israel’s] face around the world, accuse it of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes; deprive the Jewish people of their right to self-determination, call to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and support the right of return [for Palestinian refugees]".

She also threatened to introduce legislation to prohibit foreign assistance for her blacklist of civil society groups, but without giving details.

She said EU states have, in recent years, channelled up to €200 million to Israeli-critical groups.

Targets

The NGOs named by Israeli media as Hotovely’s targets include: B’Tselem; Breaking the Silence; the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; Terrestrial Jerusalem; Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Coalition of Women for Peace.

The leading EU sponsors are named as: Denmark; Germany; the Netherlands, Sweden; and the UK,

Her initiative is being backed by a right-wing group called NGO Monitor.

The group, also on Tuesday, published a fact-sheet on EU-funded NGOs which, it says, are “active in promoting the Palestinian narrative” on the demolition of the village of Susya in the West Bank.

It also listed Belgium, France, Ireland, and Spain as leading sponsors of the campaign to save the village.

Cogat, the Israeli body which governs the occupied West Bank, has been given the right, by Israeli courts, to demolish 37 structures in Susya, 22 of which were built with EU assistance.

It plans to do it on grounds the structures don’t have construction permits, which Palestinians find almost impossible to get in the so-called Area C of the West Bank.

They also plan to do it, according to Breaking the Silence, due to political “pressure from [Israeli] settlers” in the area “to destroy a symbolic number of structures in order to heed their will”.

New housing

For their part, EU foreign ministers on Monday said the “forced transfer of population” from Susya is part of a settlement expansion process which “seriously threaten[s] the two-state solution”.

But according to Israeli daily Haaretz, the EU appeal fell on deaf ears.

Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank will, on Thursday, approve the construction of 906 new housing units for Jews on Palestinian land.

Most of the new units are to be built in: Beit El, north of the de facto Palestinian capital, Ramallah; Ma’ale Adumim, in East Jerusalem; Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem; and in Beit Arieh, north-east of Jerusalem.

Half the new homes in Givat Zeev are to be earmarked for Orthodox Jews.

By contrast with Susya’s permit problems, the Israeli authorities also plan to give retroactive permission for illegally-built homes in: Giv’on, near Givat Zeev; Psagot, north of Jerusalem; and Ofarim, near Beit Arieh.

Israeli MPs to resume work on NGO gag laws

Flow of information to outside world on Israeli settler and military abuses could diminish, as Knesset resumes work with NGO gag laws on its agenda.

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