NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, respectfully files this letter to provide background information and context that may not be known to the Court regarding lawsuits related to house demolitions. We hope that this information will aid you in assessing pending and future cases.
On June 25, 2014, the Israeli NGO, HaMoked, issued a statement saying that it filed an emergency petition in the Supreme Court to stop the demolition of the “Awwad residence in Idnha,” home of the suspected killer of Police Officer, Baruch Mizrachi on April 14, 2014.
Based on the content of the case and research conducted by NGO Monitor, we believe this case may be funded by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) via substantial grants from the European Union, United Kingdom, and Norwegian governments.
In 2011-2013, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) spent over $20 million, provided by the UK, EU, Norway, and other governments, for a legal advocacy program in Israel. According to the NRC, this funding is responsible for 51% of all house demolition cases in Area C of the West Bank and 35% of all legal cases dealing with housing, land, and property claims in East Jerusalem and Area C. According to internal UK documents, NRC engages in a “low visibility policy,” obscuring its involvement in legal advocacy and political activities in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The European-financed NRC grant has funded more than 677 lawsuits in the Israeli courts. Disturbingly, an attorney affiliated with this grant program reportedly stated in a public event that these cases are an attempt to “try every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system… as many cases as possible are registered and that as many cases as possible are appealed to increase the workload of the courts and the Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage” (emphasis added, translation from original Dutch by NGO Monitor). In other words, the program is an attempt to sabotage the Israeli judicial system.
Based on our research, NGO Monitor believes that HaMoked is one of the partners of this program.
NGO Monitor submitted a freedom of information request to the UK government to obtain more information on this grant program, but it was refused under the claim that disclosure, “would or would be likely to prejudice the relations between the United Kingdom and any other state.” Therefore, a tremendous amount of secrecy revolves around this funding and is hidden from both the Israeli government and the public, despite its tremendous impact on the Israeli judicial system.
We therefore respectfully suggest that the court may want to inquire of the petitioners regarding these matters prior to issuing any decision in the Awwad case. Moreover, going forward, the court may want to examine these issues in other cases related to house demolitions in Area C and property claims in East Jerusalem and Area C.
We have attached our report that discusses this grant program in more detail.
cc: Tzipi Livni