This submission, presented by NGO Monitor in advance of the European External Action Service Country Report on Israel – 2014 ENP Progress Report, focuses on the EU’s reliance on claims by highly political Israeli, Palestinian, and international NGOs. Previous Progress Reports on Israel have included numerous allegations and conclusions – without question or independent verification – that originated with these NGOs. The unreserved reliance on NGO statements contributes to the misconstrued picture of Israel that emerges in the Reports and reflects the EU’s dysfunctional policy-making process towards Israel, which is characterized by major flaws in its assessment and understanding of Israeli society. NGO Monitor strongly recommends that, in seeking to attain an accurate picture on human rights in Israel in 2014, the EU subject NGO statements to careful scrutiny and independent verification, and consult a wider range of civil society organizations. Given the numerous instances in which NGO statements on human rights have been shown to be inaccurate or misleading, caution must be exercised in repeating NGO claims in the 2014 ENP Progress Report. Moreover, NGO Monitor urges the EU to discontinue its practice of simultaneously funding and consulting with political NGOs that exert undue influence on EU policy. As detailed in Part 1 of this submission, previous years’ ENP Reports reflect:
1. EU reliance on claims of political advocacy NGOs: By simultaneously receiving funding and serving as consultants for the EU, NGOs exert a pronounced influence on EU policies. The ENP Reports for Israel rely heavily on NGOs statements, without verifying claims, checking sources, or consulting with other parties.
2. Disproportionate focus on the Arab minority, to the exclusion of other ethnic and religious groups: Reports neglect the challenges and complexities of Israel’s broad diversity, and misrepresent the economic, social, and cultural situation in Israeli minority communities. Reports focus mainly on Israel’s non-Jewish Arabs, to the exclusion of other ethnic and religious minorities.
3. Disproportionate focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict: NGO submissions and statements encourage the EU to focus disproportionately on Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, distracting from the assessment of Israel’s bilateral relations with the EU.
4. Different standards applied to Israel: Reports show a remarkable inconsistency in terms of human rights norms construal and application with respect to other countries.The Reports reflect a double standard applied only to Israel and to no other country in the European neighborhood’s Mediterranean Partnership.
Part 2 of this submission summarizes key issues regarding recent events and developments, in anticipation of their inclusion in the 2014 ENP Report.