B'Tselem's UN Presentation, Gov't Responses, and the Role of European Funding
In the wake of B’Tselem‘s presentation at the UN Security Council on Friday (October 14) and the resulting debate, including responses from Israeli government officials and Knesset members, NGO Monitor released the following statement:
NGO Monitor’s research has focused on the disproportionate political impact of Israeli NGOs and the role of funding provided by European governments. From this perspective, we note the debate over and political responses to the presentation by the director of B’Tselem at a UN Security Council special session (convened by Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, Angola, and Senegal) on Friday October 11. In this highly politicized statement, he implored the UN to take “decisive international action” against Israel, and made no mention of Palestinian terror attacks or incitement. This event highlights the ways in which influential NGOs distort reality for ideological objectives and contribute to international political campaigns against Israel, under the façade of human rights, bypassing Israel’s internal democratic processes.
NGO Monitor’s position is that, in order to effectively address the disproportionate and irresponsible funding for Israeli political NGOs, an ongoing dialogue with the European government donors is necessary. Instead of symbolic and punitive gestures that further polarize the discourse about political NGOs, the Israeli government and Members of Knesset should work with their counterparts in Europe to formulate clear guidelines that establish transparency in funding processes, and define the agendas and groups that are ineligible for government funding. These guidelines should focus on strengthening the shared democratic structures in Israel and Europe, while ensuring that Israel’s democratic processes are respected.
B’Tselem’s annual average budget is approximately NIS 9 million, with over 64% originating with foreign governments. Donors include the EU, France, Norway, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (pooled funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands; Norway also recently joined this mechanism), Dan Church Aid (Denmark) Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Diakonia (Sweden), Christian Aid Ireland, UNICEF, Bread For The World-EED (Germany), ICCO (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), and the UNDP. B’Tselem is also funded by a number of private foundations including the New Israel Fund (NIF) and George Soros’ Open Society Forum.