Israel to EU: Stop funding organizations with ties to terrorists

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry published a report with a list of NGOs that receive funding from the EU despite their ties to terrorist organizations and their support for BDS. 

By: AP

Israel called on the European Union on Friday to halt funding to more than a dozen European and Palestinian non-governmental organizations, including those with ties to terrorist organizations.

Israel said that support for these groups, which promote boycotts against Israel, violates the EU’s stated policy that it opposes boycotts against the Jewish state.

Norway recently announced it would stop funding NGOs that support boycotts against Israel.

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry published a report with a list of groups that it says receive EU funding and call for boycotts against Israel. It said some of the groups had links to terrorist groups while receiving EU money.

The report was the latest salvo by Israel in its fight against a global movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions over of its treatment of the Palestinians. The movement, known as BDS, has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world.

“The state of Israel expects the EU to act with full transparency and reveal the scope of its financial aid to organizations that have ties to terror and promote boycotts against Israel” the report said. “Israel strongly urges the EU to fully implement in practice its declared policy of rejecting boycotts against Israel, and to immediately halt funding to organizations which promote anti-Israel boycotts and de-legitimization.”

EU officials said the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, received the report from Israel along with a letter requesting a reply and that it’s now under consideration. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to talk to the media.

Earlier, an EU statement said the bloc was “happy to review any relevant information received concerning EU funded activities.”

“Money from the EU budget may only be spent for the purpose for which it was contracted, under strict transparency rules and is subject to extensive monitoring requirements,” it said.

Israel said the NGOs received a total of 5 million euros ($5.9 million) in 2016, the last year for which data was available, according to the ministry report.

US fines Norwegian NGO for Hamas links

Israel accused some of the NGOs of having links to Palestinian terrorist groups, listing among others Norwegian People’s Aid, which received more than 1.7 million euros ($2 million) in 2016.

The US Justice Department announced in April that the group reached a settlement with the United States over accusations that it had provided “training and expert advice or assistance” to Hamas, the Islamists terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, as well as other Palestinian terrorist groups and Iran. As part of the settlement, NPA “admitted to and accepted responsibility for its conduct” and agreed to pay more than $2 million.

NPA’s chief Henriette Killi Westhrin said the US government interprets the participation of individuals on their list of banned nationals or groups “in trainings or meetings on human rights and democracy as material support.”

“We do not agree with this interpretation, but accepted the settlement to avoid an even more costly judicial process,” it said.

The US, along with the EU, considers Hamas, a group that has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks, as a terrorist organization.

Other groups singled out in Friday’s report included the British organization War on Want, the Dutch anti-war group PAX as well as a number of Palestinian groups, including PNGO Net, an umbrella organization that works to coordinate Palestinian civil society.

Munjid Abu Jaish of PNGO Net called Friday’s report “another Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and their institutions.”

“We will continue our legal nonviolent struggle according to the international law, regardless of the results, because we believe in this path,” he said.