The EU funds NGOs that become instruments of anti-Israeli political warfare while they claim that they promote peace, human rights and democracy, says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, an independent research institution based in Jerusalem.

“Taxpayer money is being channeled to organizations and activities that fuel the conflict, in violation of democratic principles. The EU can make a positive contribution to Israeli-Palestinian peace, but this requires a basic change in funding for radical NGOs”, Steinberg told a meeting of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel in presenting the findings of a new report on EU funding for political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He stressed the need for a wide-ranging public debate, including hearings in the European Parliament, to facilitate policies that will end the secrecy with which European frameworks allocate funding to political NGOs.

“There is also a need for transparent, independent, and professional evaluation of EU allocations to NGOs and for guidelines on the appropriate uses of taxpayer funds to prevent funding for NGOs that promote violence or justify terror”, Steinberg said, recommending the creation of a joint EU-Israel committee on this matter.

Steinberg highlighted in particular the EU’s highly disproportionate funding for NGOs through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) which, he said, “allocated over 11 million euros to NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which represents 57% of EIDHR funding directed at the Middle East, while projects in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are largely ignored by such EU frameworks.”

EU funded organizations regularly employ demonizing rhetoric, campaign for anti-Israel boycott efforts (BDS), actively lobby international frameworks, and engage in law fare activities, says NGO Monitor in its report.

It gives the example of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), which was awarded an EIDHR grant of 169,661 Euros in 2010 and presented a one-sided perspective on the conflict, including accusations against Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.”

“EU funds are going to organizations involved in anti-Israel boycotts and violent demonstrations, which undermine the EU’s efforts to secure peace in the Middle East”, NGO Monitor points out.

A senior EU official from the European Union External Action Service (EEAS), who participated in the discussion on the NGO monitor findings refuted however that there is a EU deliberate policy against Israel through funding of NGOs. ‘’In order to get EU money, these NGOs have to respond to criteria and a programme approved by the EU institutions,” said Leonello Gabrici, stressing that “if something goes wrong it can be spotted and if money is misused it can be stopped.”

“We are not working on boycotting Israel but rather on preparing an unprecedented package of EU-added value for peace,” he affirmed.

source: EIPA. Yossi LEMPKOWICZ

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