The situation in the Middle-East

Letter from the Minister and State-Secretary of Foreign Affairs

To the Chairman of the Tweede Kamer of the States-General

Click here to read the original Dutch [translation by NGO Monitor]

We eagerly present to you the reaction to the request of the Permanent Commission for Foreign Affairs made on March 7, 2011 (2011Z4315/2011D11358) to send a reaction to NGO Monitor’s publication “Analysis of Dutch funding for Israeli and Palestinian political advocacy NGOs,” and to also present the reaction of the respective NGOs to the allegations in this publication. It was also requested to address the possible ties of the organization NGO-Monitor with organizations that are involved with settlement policy and the way in which NGO Monitor gets financed, as well as to give an evaluation of the anti-boycott legislation that in the meantime has been ratified in Israel.

Reaction to the publication of  NGO Monitor “Analysis of Dutch funding for Israeli and Palestinian political advocacy NGO’s”

The financing of activities such as calling for boycotts, the retracting of investments and the call for sanctions against Israel do not fit within the Dutch government’s policy. We have conveyed this message to the Palestinian and Israeli partners, to the Dutch organizations which are active in the Palestinian Territories as well as to the NGO Development Center (NDC the donor consortium of The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland) in Ramallah.

For the financing of activities by the MFS-alliances (medefinancieringsstelsel) the rule applies that it is not permitted to be contradictory to Dutch foreign policy. If needed, we will in the near future give further instructions within the framework of the current subsidies settlement. If it will be revealed that a receiver of subsidies nurtures or supports activities that go against Dutch foreign policy with Dutch means, and if this receiver doesn’t change its policy, this will be taken into account during the evaluation of possible future subsidy requests after 2015.

The NDC in Ramallah uses a careful selection procedure when choosing its projects. The organizations involved are supposed to be committed to UN-standards. This means no incitement and activities that go against the policy of the international community. Lest this does happen the donors have, according to contract, the possibility to immediately take action. This has happened with Badil for example. The management of Badil, which had published an anti-Semitic cartoon on the website, has apologized, the image has been removed from the website and the management has been replaced.

In response to the remarks of NGO Monitor:

  • NGO Monitor claims that the amount of the subsidy allocation by the office in Tel Aviv to the organization “Breaking the Silence” (BtS) is a result of the need to release the granting of subsidies from prior scrutiny by the department in The Hague. This is not the case: the granting of the subsidy was within the mandate of the post and within the policy framework which applies for this subsidy, irrespective of the amount of the subsidy allocation. NGO Monitor has been informed on this matter in 2009.
  • Al Haq is a human rights organization which receives funding from several international donors and has in 2009 received the “Geuzenpenning” prize, together with B’Tselem, for its efforts in the field of human rights. Mister Shawan Jabarin, director of Al Haq, has been prohibited from travelling, which means he can not leave the West-Bank. The person involved is not being prosecuted or convicted. I therefore don’t see cause to retract or refuse financing of Al Haq. If Mr. Shawan Jabarin will be indicted and convicted then the financing of Al Haq will be seen in that light.
  • Concerning the development organization PARC, NGO Monitor writes that this organization has called for BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions). As has been mentioned above, the Dutch government rejects calls for BDS. The Dutch Representation in Ramallah has therefore asked PARC to remove a January 2011 press release which supports BDS from its own website. PARC has conformed. PARC is an important partner of The Netherlands; it is responsible for the implementation of a successful flower and strawberry project in Gaza and effectively cooperates with Israeli experts and organizations.
  • The government sees the funding tracks from The Netherlands as sufficiently transparent. The subsidy procedures are clear-cut and visible for everyone. NGO Monitor has several times requested the Foreign Ministry for figures and information. These have always been provided.
  • With regard to the support of ICCO for the website Electronic Intifada I refer to the answer on the written questions by members Driessen, Voordewind and Van der Staaij; (appendix 2010-2011, nrs 1454, 1359, 1256 and 1255)

Reaction of NGOs to the positions in this publication.

Cordaid, ICCO and Oxfam/Novib do not recognize themselves in the allegations of NGO Monitor. When asked, the NGOs say that they only cooperate with partner organizations that operate within the framework of international law and that do not call for hate and/or violence.

Ties of NGO Monitor with organizations that are involved with the settlement policy and the way in which NGO Monitor is being financed.

NGO Monitor considers itself as an independent research organization. The organization says it has no ties with organizations or groups that are involved with the settlement policy in Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Anti-boycott legislation.
As to the recently approved Israeli anti-boycott legislation I refer you to my answers to the written questions of members Pechtold and Hachchi, sent on July 15, 2010, (appendix Handelingen II, nr. 3371, session year 2010-2011)