1. Does the support described above not constitute intervention by foreign government in the internal affairs of the state – intervention that goes beyond the accepted norm in relations between states?
A. No, EU support for projects in fields such as human rights and support for the peaceful resolution of conflicts does not go beyond the accepted norm in relations between states.
Respect for human rights is one of the guiding principles for the EU’s external relations. The EU draws on a wide range of tools to promote human rights and democratization objectives in its external relations. Some of these tools are instruments of traditional diplomacy and foreign policy, such as declarations, common strategies and demarches (through diplomatic representations to third countries), as well as resolutions and interventions within the United Nations framework. In addition, the EU promotes human rights and democratization through various cooperation and assistance programmes it implements with third countries and through the political dialogues that it conducts with them. In doing so it uses a specific legal basis, a “human rights clause”, which is incorporated as an essential element in nearly all EU agreements with third countries since 1995. This human rights clause appears in the EU-Israel Association Agreement that was signed in 1995 and came into effect in 2000. Examples of issues within the EU human rights policy are the fights against torture, death penalty, racism and xenophobia as well as the promotion of rights of women, children and minorities.
Recognising the vital contribution made by non governmental organisations (NGOs) to the promotion and protection of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) was created by an initiative of the European Parliament in 1994. The EIDHR aims to promote human rights, democracy and conflict prevention in third countries all over the world by providing financial assistance for activities supporting these goals.
The EU Partnership for Peace Programme which has been in existence for over a decade supports local and international civil society initiatives that promote peace, tolerance and non violence in the Middle East. This programme does not apply to Israel alone but also to actions in Jordan, and in the Palestinian Territories. The objective of this support is to contribute to the rebuilding of confidence within each society and between societies. The programme aims to promote initiatives in areas which are likely to have an impact on people’s everyday lives and welfare, including practical activities which will promote communication and understanding by demonstrating the advantages of working together for mutual benefit and tangible results.
I should add that the European Union does not support organisations as such but rather specific, well defined projects that are submitted to the European Commission following open and transparent calls for proposals. Moreover projects submitted by some the NGOs you refer to are not presently being supported by the European Union
2. Once the EU has decided to support human rights organizations how does it explain the fact that the support falls on one side of the ideological/political map?
A. In the view of the European Union, human rights is not an ideological or political issue but rather something that should be supported by all parts of every society. The European Union is happy to receive project proposals from organizations coming from every sector of Israeli society.
3. What are the criteria under which the EU decides who to support?
A. The main criteria are the relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of the submitted project in relation to the priorities listed in the call for proposals. In addition, the financial and operational capacity of the applicant is closely examined.
4. Why does the EU Delegation in Ramat Gan refuse to provide information on support for NGOs defining themselves as human rights organizations in Israel.
A. It is absolutely untrue that the EU Delegation in Ramat Gan refuses to supply such information. Details of support for projects accepted under the human rights (EIDHR) and Partnership for Peace programmes are clearly displayed in the Cooperation and Funding section of the Delegation’s website www.delisr.ec.europa.eu
5. Why was NGO Monitor given a disk with censored information on this issue?
A. A large proportion of the requests for information made by NGO Monitor has been provided by the European Commission. However some of NGO Monitor’s detailed requests were rejected for reasons that included the protection of public security and the protection of privacy and integrity. The European Commission has invited NGO Monitor, should it so wish, to appeal this decision in the European courts.