In January 2017, the church umbrella organization CIDSE’s Palestine-Israel Working Group (made up of 18 organizations from Europe and North America) released a document titled “No Place Like Home: A Reader On The Forced Internal Displacement Of Palestinians In The Occupied Palestinian Territory And Israel.” The working group includes: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development [CAFOD] – (UK), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), MISEREOR (Germany) and Trócaire (Ireland). The document cited a number of political NGOs, including Adalah and Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC).
CIDSE’s press release quotes Brigitte Herremans, Broederlijk Delen’s “Policy Officer for Israel and Palestine.” Herremans is a major supporter of lawfare and BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel, and in September 2016, was denied entry to Israel. Herremans has also called on the EU “to confront Israel” over alleged “systematic violations of international law.” Similarly, Broederlijk Delen, along with CCFD, Trócaire, and others produced the 2012 report “Trading Away Peace,” which lobbied the EU to impose economic sanctions on Israel. Broederlijk Delen, along with the other CIDSE group members, also fund politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including some of the organizations cited in the document.
The CIDSE document appears to be designed as a tool to be used for lobbying the European Union. The stated objective for the document is “to highlight the causes and impacts of displacement, explain the basic international legal principles relating to displacement and place this within the context of the European Union’s response” (p. 13). Indeed, each chapter has a section titled “The European Union’s Response.”
CIDSE claims that it does “not attempt to make specific policy recommendations, rather our aim is to stimulate discussion and encourage dialogue. We encourage policy makers or those who seek to influence them to make use of the material to develop recommendations for action” (p. 13). However, the organization clearly and explicitly seeks to influence EU policy on Israel: (p. 54) “…the EU and Member States [to] prioritise the use of their leverage in bilateral relations towards the aims of promoting the shared values of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. Financial support alone is not enough to promote these values, and ensure that they bring about justice and prosperity for the region.”
The issue of illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank, often facilitated by funds from the EU and member states, and Israeli removal of these structures, is a major source of diplomatic tension between Israel and the EU. And CIDSE is attempting to exploit this tension.
CIDSE argues that this Israel policy is a form of discrimination against Arab populations within Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The text states that these “structures that are built without permits risk being demolished by Israeli authorities. 99 percent of Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and at least one third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack an Israeli-issued building permit, potentially placing their residents at risk of displacement” (p. 5). The illegality of the construction and its implications, which would be serious concerns in any country, are not considered by the CIDSE working group.
In the document, CIDSE also claims that “movement restrictions” contribute to the alleged displacement. “Movement restrictions” include the requirement for Palestinians to have a permit to enter Israel or closed military zone including (p. 5) “for passing through gates in the West Bank Barrier (also known as the Wall), that was constructed by Israel.” CIDSE entirely negates legitimate security concerns facing Israel and the wider context of conflict.
The document relies heavily on information provided by politicized NGOs, some of which have alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, including Al-Haq and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). The NGOs also support BDS, lawfare, and/or other forms of delegitimization against Israel. Many of these NGOs also receive funding from the European Union and its member states, as documented by NGO Monitor.
- NGOs cited in the document include: Adalah, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Al-Haq, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), BADIL, Yesh Din, Human Rights Watch, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Diakonia, Rabbis for Human Rights, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), B’Tselem, Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), HaMoked, Society of St. Yves, Bimkom, Gisha, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, APRODEV, and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality.