Jerusalem – A policy paper published today by NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based think tank, examines the challenges and opportunities for US funding policy towards non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document is being distributed to a wide range of policy makers and analysts in the US and Israel, and makes concrete recommendations related to anti-terror vetting, guidelines, and evaluations for NGO funding.

NGO Monitor’s main recommendations are:

  • The restoration of US funding to Palestinian NGOs highlights the need for clear and robust mechanisms to assess the suitability of potential grantees and to monitor ongoing programs.To ensure the integrity of US assistance, USAID must improve its standards for anti-terror vetting. In May 2020, USAID revised these regulations, making US funds vulnerable to abuse by grantees linked to terrorist organizations, or with groups that support, glorify, or excuse violence.
  • The US should also adopt concrete criteria to prevent funding from reaching organizations that promote antisemitism.  Implementing commonsense guidelines based on the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism, consistent with US policies, interests, and values, would enhance such efforts.
  • Over the next five years, the US government will disburse up to $250 million to Palestinian and Israeli “people-to-people” initiatives as part of the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act. USAID needs mechanisms to ensure that NGOs that promote anti-normalization and other forms of boycotts are ineligible for funding under programs dedicated to coexistence and peacebuilding.

NGO Monitor also anticipates an increase in NGO-driven anti-Israel initiatives – including demonization, sanctions, and other forms of BDS – in Congress. Promulgation of the “apartheid” myth by NGOs and the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to launch a formal investigation into “the situation in Palestine,” will likely serve as catalysts for such activity.

“This policy paper provides crucial perspective on the opportunities and challenges as the US renews its support for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. In order for US funding to the region to be effective, and advance US policies and values, Congress and the Administration must take steps to ensure that US vetting is robust.” said Yona Schiffmiller, Head of Research at NGO Monitor.

Schiffmiller added that “Improved vetting mechanisms and procedures are critical to preventing US assistance from ending up in the hands of organizations with ties to terror, and those that glorify violence, promote antisemitism, and advance BDS.”