EU Policies on Israel Distorted by Secret Funding for Political NGOs
NGO Monitor Statement on the Visit of the Europe Union delegation
The EU’s policies on Israel, the Palestinian conflict, and regional changes are greatly influenced and distorted by the close relationship with a narrow group of political advocacy NGOs. This relationship includes large-scale funding which is characterized by a lack of transparency, as well as outsourcing of research and policy making to the same marginal NGOs.
NGO Monitor’s detailed research shows that Israeli and Palestinian political groups receive more funding under the EIDHR (European Instrument of Democracy and Human Rights) framework than any other country or issue area. “There is an inherent absurdity in the fact that so much of the EU’s funding in this area is focused on criticizing Israel, while, in this EU framework, human rights issues in Iran, Egypt , Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries are largely neglected,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor. “By basing much of its policy towards the peace process on biased and unverifiable reports by NGOs that promote demonization and boycotts targeting Israel, the EU consistently makes a negative contribution.”
The EU’s lack of transparency in providing tens of millions of Euros annually to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through EIDHR and PfP (Partnership for Peace), among other frameworks, blocks the implementation of effective checks and balances, as well as independent evaluations. As illustrated in the case of the fringe NGO known as Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), which received over €600,000 in EU grants in recent years, the extreme secrecy in funding decisions violates the norms of due diligence and good governance. (NGO Monitor submitted a request for documents to the EU on May 14 and as of September 9, this request freedom of information remains “under consideration”.)
In addition, according to NGO Monitor, there are far too many examples in which the EU outsources foreign policy in the Middle East to the same narrow NGOs which are also funded by European taxpayers.
A biased publication submitted by 22 political NGOs and addressed to the EU is directly linked to the new policies seeking to define Israeli borders without negotiation, and the conflict with Israel that this created. Similarly, between 2010-2012, six documents were produced by the EU – dealing with Jerusalem, “Area C,” and Israeli-Arab citizens – which copy many of the false or misleading allegations made by the same political NGOs, as well as their analyses.
The EU delegation’s visit to Israel is an opportunity for officials to go beyond the narrow and misleading links that have characterized the relationship, and to engage with all sectors of Israeli society. The agenda should also include funding transparency for political advocacy NGOs, and a review of the impact of these relationships on EU policy regarding security and peace negotiations. In this process, the EU can increase its credibility and repair damaged relations.