Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands jointly fund Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). The funds are managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and by a European multidisciplinary consulting company, NIRAS.
According to its website, the overall objective of this joint donor program is to “contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to influence the behavior of the relevant duty bearers, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the governing bodies/ authorities in Gaza.” (emphasis added). This is done by “supporting Palestinian and Israeli human rights (HR) civil society organizations (CSOs) active in the oPt, within the general parameters and context of ending the Israeli occupation of the oPt, and establishing an independent, democratic Palestinian state in which human rights are respected.”
- The donor countries are responsible for “deciding on the general framework and policy for the HR/IHL Secretariat; approving operational manuals and standard forms for the Secretariat; approving annual work plans and budget for the Secretariat; approving funding as proposed by the Secretariat; deciding to open Calls for Proposals for project support; approving annual narrative reports and audited financial statements by the Secretariat; and the Steering Committee commissions the mid-term review or any other external evaluation of the programme.” (emphases added). The Secretariat provided a total of $13,289,400 in 2014-2016 through core funding to 24 NGOs. However, there is no information as to how grantees are decided upon, on the basis of what information and by whom. NGO Monitor research shows that several grantees promote BDS and employ anti-Zionist or even antisemitic rhetoric.
- 13 out of 24 core fund recipients support BDS,
- 11 out of 20 project fund recipients support BDS,
- core fund recipients that support BDS receive $5.78 million out of $10.48
- In total: 56% of Secretariat funding goes to NGOs that support and/or promote BDS
Selected Examples of Secretariat Activities and Statements
In addition to funding highly politicized activities and NGOs, the Secretariat regularly promotes and publicizes the contested and biased narratives of its partners and grantees.
- At the March 2014 Launch Event, Secretariat Manager Mustafa Mari “…highlight[ed] the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people and the need for supporting the human rights and international humanitarian law CSO sector, while reminding the audience of the apartheid-like realities that duty- bearers must address” (emphasis added).
- In February 2014, Secretariat managing partner IoL-BZU published a 15-page report, “Advocating for Palestinian Rights in conformity with International Law: Guidelines” (English and Arabic). This document is a strategic manual for exploiting legal terms and rhetoric to demonize and isolate Israel internationally (“lawfare”), as well as to emphasize that Israel regardless of its borders is among “racist regimes which are absolutely prohibited in their entirety.” This report was posted prominently on the Secretariat’s Facebook page.
- Secretariat managing partner IoL-BZU and its predecessor, the NGO Development Center (NDC), are both proponents of anti-normalization – a movement rejecting any cooperation or dialogue with Israel or Israelis. NDC’s Code of Conduct obliges signatory NGOs to “to be in line with the national agenda without any normalization activities with the occupier [Israel], neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels” (emphasis added). According to Cherif Bassiouni, international legal expert and one of the founders of the International Criminal Court, IoL-BZU invited Bassiouni to speak, but withdrew the invitation after learning that he was also scheduled to speak at Israeli universities in May 2015.
Selected Examples of Secretariat Funded NGOs
- BADIL ($260,000 for 2014-2016, plus unknown amount of “emergency funding”): Founded to promote a Palestinian “right of return” and a leader of international BDS campaigns. Has published antisemitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery promoting a one-state agenda and denying Israel’s right to exist.
- Al Haq ($710,000 for 2014-2016): leader in the anti-Israel BDS and “lawfare” campaigns and has proposed sabotaging the Israeli court system by “flooding the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functioning and resources.” The Israeli Supreme Court has identified Al Haq’s general director Shawan Jabarin as “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.” The PFLP is a designated terrorist organization by the EU.
- Stop the Wall ($65,000 for specific project): Leader of the international BDS campaign. Received a grant to “contribute to a situation of accountability and respect for human rights by all duty bearers by creating mechanisms to implement ICJ decisions related to the separation Wall.” Stop the Wall claims that “The Wall is an integral part of the Zionist project to remove Palestinians from Palestine,” and considers “The Wall to be an integral part of the racist ambitions of Zionism” and “Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid” policies.