For more than 20 years, European government officials have funnelled tens of millions of euros, pounds, Swiss Francs, and krona annually into a small group of Israeli and Palestinian political groups, under the banners of human rights, democracy, peace and development. Many of these groups are involved in discriminatory anti-Israel and anti-peace demonization campaigns such as BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and lawfare. And in contrast to European preaching about democracy and transparency, these funding processes involving Israel are top secret; despite the amounts involved and the implications, there have been very few public discussions in Europe, and essentially no parliamentary oversight.
However, this situation is now changing. On June 16, following a detailed debate, the Dutch Parliament approved a proposal requiring the government to review funding for NGOs that promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) targeting Israel, and, in particular, the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat based at Birzeit University in Ramallah…A similar debate and vote is scheduled to take place in the Swiss Parliament on June 17.
In parallel, the British Parliament held a debate this week on the government’s international aid activities, including the distribution of funds by the Department for International Development (DFID). In this debate, MPs cited NGO Monitor research reports on this funding, calling on the government to stop diversion of funds to anti-peace Israeli and Palestinian NGOs.
In all three instances, the parliamentary debates, votes, and policy changes followed recent briefings from NGO Monitor, based on our research reports. The need for responsible policies regarding NGO funding from Europe has been repeated by Israeli government officials, diplomats, and members of the Knesset in their contacts with European counterparts.
Under the framework of transparency, and following the precedent set in the US Congress, the Knesset is weighing laws that would require NGOs that are funded by foreign governments to declare this when they lobby and interact with official frameworks. But if European officials scale back or end this irresponsible practice, which is used uniquely to undermine Israeli democracy and sovereignty, and negotiate funding guidelines with their Knesset counterparts, such legislation will be unnecessary. Such a cooperative outcome would also mark a fundamental improvement in relations between official Europe and Israel.