Impact: Dutch Parliamentary Questions on NGO Funding and BDS
Following meetings between NGO Monitor and Dutch parliamentarians in March, several Dutch MPs (Voordewind [Christian Union], Ten Broeke [VVD] and Van der Staaij [SGP]) submitted written questions to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, about their government’s indirect support for pro-BDS organizations.
The questions specifically referred to NGOs with BDS agendas and the supposed selection criteria that make these political NGOs eligible to receive Dutch taxpayer funds. The possibility that Dutch government financial support bolsters BDS is significant, as the Foreign Minister has already said that the Dutch government “opposes a boycott of Israel.”
Additionally, the Dutch government has initiated an independent review of its Development aid to the West Bank and Gaza. Although this report was expected in December 2015, it was only handed to the Foreign Minister for review at the end of May 2016. Revealing a significant lack of transparency, it is still uncertain if the report will be fully released; indeed, the evaluation proposal states, “Given the political sensibility of the information, we may consider not to publish them” (emphasis added).
It is important to note that pro-BDS groups in the Netherlands have rejected the attempts to introduce more accountability and transparency into the process. In response to previous questions tabled based on NGO Monitor’s research, an umbrella group of pro-BDS NGOs in Holland remarked that “the arm of NGO Monitor has reached into the heart of our democracy” (Translated from Dutch).