• The UK government no longer supports the following Israeli NGOs, which had received various grants between 2005 and 2010: Yesh Din, Ir Amim, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), HaMoked, Bimkom, and Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI).
  • The British government funds Palestinian NGOs Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS) and Holy Land Trust, which are involved in the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.
  • In correspondence with NGO Monitor, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated: “The UK Government does not support the BDS movement,” and “we have been very clear that the boycotts movement is not productive… it could be deeply corrosive.”
  • Breaking the Silence, Terrestrial Jerusalem, B’Tselem, and Peace Now currently receive funding via the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.
  • Funding to the above groups is a manipulation of the democratic process, an attempt to change “Israeli civil and military judicial practice and decisions” and government policy. Some of these groups operate primarily outside of Israel and are engaged in anti-Israel efforts.
  • In recent years, the UK government has demonstrated transparency in its NGO funding, providing regular updates on Embassy and Consulate websites. However, the decision making and evaluation processes for the allocation of funding lack transparency, leaving key policy questions unanswered.
  • The UK also supported the visit to the Palestinian Authority of singer Shadia Mansour, whose lyrics demonize and seek to delegitimize Israel.
  • DCI-PS frequently issues false accusations against Israel, such as “targeting unarmed children.” It opposes the “normalization” of Israel, and vilifies European governments that support Israel.

The British government, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), funds a large number of Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While the evidence shows that some groups funded since 2008 are primarily involved in universal human rights and humanitarian efforts, many pursue an intensely partisan agenda. These NGOs employ the rhetoric of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “war crimes” in their reports and are involved in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns. These activities do not promote peace; rather, they are the antithesis of human rights and contribute to the conflict.

At the same time, a number of Israeli NGOs are no longer receiving funding from the British government. These include Yesh Din, Ir Amim, Gisha, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (see below), as well as Bimkom, HaMoked and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) that had been provided grants before 2008.

Funding Frameworks

In a letter (November 16, 2010) responding to NGO Monitor’s request for information, the FCO Middle East and North Africa division provided details of British government funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. As stated in this response, small- scale NGO projects are supported via the Bilateral Programme Budget (BPB), which is managed locally, usually through the Embassy in Tel Aviv or Consulate in Jerusalem.

The second framework is the Middle East and North Africa Conflict Pool (MENA CP), managed by the FCO, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the Ministry of Defense. This framework includes the Strategic Programme Fund and the Conflict Prevention Pool. Funding decisions are guided by British strategic objectives in the region.

Between 2003-4 and 2009-10, the UK “provided nearly £3.8 million to NGOs in Israel (other than in the West Bank or Gaza).”

Funding Rationales and Non-Compliant NGOs

In general, funding is directed at projects which “support efforts to achieve a two-state solution, that sees a viable Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel.”

At the same time, the FCO funding frameworks have different goals that shape decisions.

The MENA CP objective for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, detailed in FCO correspondence with NGO Monitor, is “to improve the environment to make a successful peace process more likely to happen or, in the absence of such a process, reduce the likelihood of severe and widespread violence.”

However, a number of NGOs do not meet these criteria, and MENA CP funding goes primarily to NGOs involved in political activity against the Israeli government. Groups such as Defence for Children International – Palestine Section and Holy Land Trust play major roles in the boycott campaign against Israel, and the NGOs Breaking the Silence and Terrestrial Jerusalem seek to use foreign pressure to alter policies of the Israeli government.

NGO Monitor inquired specifically about British funding for NGOs involved in BDS. The FCO responded: “We have not seen evidence to corroborate the claim that they are heavily or centrally involved in calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.”

The FCO also stated that it does not provide “core funding” to NGOs; rather, funding is designated for specific activities: “We sought and received specific assurances that UK Government funding would go only on the defined project activities: we are confident, therefore, that it will not be used to support any BDS activity” [emphasis in original].

MP Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State, also addressed the goals of Conflict Prevention Pool funding in a written response to a Parliamentary question (September 6, 2010), stating that “work to improve the political environment in support of the peace process, including tackling difficult issues such as settlements and alleged human rights violations on both sides.”

However, NGO Monitor’s research did not find evidence of UK support for groups that address Palestinian violations of Israeli human rights. Instead, the analysis demonstrates that a significant proportion of the NGOs receiving British funds promote the Palestinian political narrative, focusing only on allegations of Israeli human rights violations. In correspondence with NGO Monitor, FCO officials clarified that “We accept that human rights violations occur on both sides of the conflict. However the role of the Conflict prevention Pool (MENA CP) is to address the potential causes of conflict rather than to document human rights abuses.”

The goals of the BPB framework, managed by the UK Embassy and Consulate, include strengthening the UK’s relationships with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Funding is directed at “smaller scale projects up to £5,000, and events that will contribute to the Consulate’s objectives to encourage sustainable development.” While the majority of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs and projects benefitting from BPB are genuinely humanitarian in nature, a notable exception is the financial support of singer Shadia Mansour’s visit to the Palestinian territories, who sang “they came and destroyed our houses; they came and killed our children” to young Palestinian children and who collaborated on a song containing lyrics such as “Israel is a terrorist state” (see below).

Claims of NGO Funding Successes: Changes to Israeli Policy

According to MP Burt, one of the accomplishments of British NGO funding is “a number of changes to Israeli civil and military judicial practice and decisions, and increased public debate on these issues.” Indeed, Israeli NGOs receiving UK support, including B’Tselem, Bimkom, Ir Amim, Gisha, ACRI, and Yesh Din, are extremely active in attempts to change the policies of the elected Israeli government through lobbying and paid advertisements, publications, Knesset events, and numerous petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court.

As a result, attempts to use funding for political NGOs to manipulate Israeli policy have been a source of tension between the British and Israeli governments. In 2007, Israel criticized the UK for interfering in an internal Israeli matter through funding an NGO publication on the security barrier. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official noted, “How would they react in London if our embassy was to fund research on a British organization that is trying to promote an agenda that is critical of [the government]? This is not acceptable in international relations.”

UK Limited NGO Funding Transparency

The British government has been transparent in publishing funding details for Israeli and Palestinian organizations. Undersecretary Burt provided information to Parliament about funding to specific Israeli NGOs, and FCO officials responded to NGO Monitor inquiries. This stands in sharp contrast to other European governments, which do not practice full transparency on this issue. A list of British-funded Israeli NGOs and amounts received is accessible from the website of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. A similar list of Palestinian NGOs and projects is available through the website of the Consulate in Jerusalem. However, the processes by which NGO funding decisions are made, the criteria employed, and the evaluations of resulting activities, if any, are not part of this transparency.

Analysis of UK Funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs

Currently funded NGOs by MENA CP:

  • Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS) claims to be dedicated to “promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children.” It refers to Israel’s actions in Gaza as “illegal acts of aggression” that “may amount to war crimes,” and accuses Israel of “targeting unarmed children.” Advocacy on issues beyond children’s rights include promoting the return of Palestinian refugees into Israel, lobbying for international sanctions against Israel, and support for BDS. DCI-PS is very active in submitting claims of “war crimes” to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In an op-ed, General Director Rifat Odeh Kassis promotes the canard that Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has dual loyalties, rendering him “so blind, so brazen, so hypocritical and so unjust,” and claiming that he “makes his own country a partner” in “Israel’s injustices.” ?12,500 from MENA CP, approved December 2010. “To promote and protect the rights of Palestinian children to reduce the number directly and indirectly affected by the Israel/Palestine conflict.”

  • Breaking the Silence (BtS), an Israeli NGO, publishes what it claims are testimonies from Israeli soldiers. These testimonies, stripped of context, are anonymous and often based on hearsay. BtS officials travel widely to address European parliamentary groups, Jewish organizations and university campuses in the United States to promote their allegations. NGO Monitor’s detailed analysis of the December 2010 BtS compilation shows that only 30 of 183 testimonies could potentially be independently verified based on the details provided. Contrary to BtS claims of “an offensive policy that includes annexation of territory, terrorizing and tightening the control over the civilian population” mandated at the highest levels of the army, many testimonies note that misconduct was opposed and punished by officers: “I have to point out that the officers were opposed to it, and they tried anyone who was involved in these things. There was a strong opposition.”

Claims of “war crimes” are widely used in attempts to criminalize Israeli self-defense, press for foreign prosecution of Israeli officials, and impose sanctions against Israel. The group also conducts political “tours” in the highly sensitive environment of Hebron to support their claim that there exists “a reality of Apartheid and a kind of ‘ethnic cleansing.’” £157,590 in 2008-2011 from MENA CP. To support “Breaking the Silence’s Educating for Change project, which aim’s to raise international and Israeli awareness of human rights violations in the Hebron area.”

  • No Legal Frontiers (NLF), an Israeli NGO, claims to strive “for a legal system without discrimination in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” by engaging in legal and political advocacy. This NGO attempts to alter Israeli policy through “legislative change relating to the population of the OPT” – specific legislative proposals are not available.
NLF is completely non-transparent; its website features no funding details, contact information, or lists of key officials. There is no indication that those responsible for the website are professionally qualified to make legal claims or issue policy recommendations.This NGO appears to be a project of Machsom Watch, an Israeli NGO also active in BDS and demonization campaigns. (Susan Lourenco and Sarah Kliachko, Machsom Watch activists, are listed by the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits as co-founders of NLF.) As of February 10, 2011, all items on its website’s newsfeed are taken from DCI-PS, also funded by the UK (see below). NGO Monitor research shows that NLF is also funded by the Heinrich Böll Siftung, a project of the German Green Party. £30,000 in 2010/11from MENA CP. “To a) develop a website containing applicable and updated laws and military orders, translated and uploaded in Hebrew, Arabic and English and b) upload a report on the functioning of juvenile military courts.” 
  • Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli NGO, claims to “deliver[] information, maps and data about the full spectrum of Jerusalem-related developments which could impact either the political process of permanent status options. It also provides specific policy proposals regarding Jerusalem issues being discussed or negotiated at any given time.”

Founded by Danny Seidemann, formerly of Ir Amim. Although active in Israel, this NGO is registered as a lobby in the United States, and has no website. Seidemann stated that Israel’s actions in Jerusalem were “contributing to the transformation of a resolvable national-political conflict into an intractable mix of jihad, war of mitzvah, and Armageddon — a religious war driven by the Biblical imagery.” ?30,000 in 2010/11from MENA CP. “To provide better mapping for use in discussions on final status issues and assist in preventing conflict.” UK funding for Terrestrial Jerusalem can be seen as an extension of previous support for Ir Amim (see above).

  • B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO, aims to change Israeli government policy in the West Bank and Gaza by using accusations of Israeli human rights violations of Palestinians. Increasingly, B’Tselem’s target audience is European and US government officials (including an office in Washington, D.C.) and media outlets.
The NGO has been criticized for inaccurate research, skewed statistics, and misrepresentations of international law. For example, after Israel killed senior Hamas military commander Nizar Rayan, whose house was being used as a weapons store and whose family was voluntarily shielding him, B’Tselem condemned the strike as a “grave breach of international humanitarian law” and incredulously stated that “it is hard to think of a definite military advantage that could have been achieved by bombing the house and killing Rayan.”In an interview with “From Occupied Palestine,” CEO Jessica Montel defended the use of the word “apartheid” as “useful for mobilizing people because of its emotional power.” £135,000 from MENA CP in 2010/11. “To bring about improvement in human rights in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, using film and video documentation as both a deterrent and tool for accountability.”
  • Holy Land Trust (HLT), a Palestinian NGO, is heavily involved in the BDS campaign. Conducts highly politicized tours targeting church leaders and the international community, claiming to provide “cross cultural and experimental learning opportunities in both Palestine and Israel.” HLT suggests that its participants “limit information” given to Israeli airport security and hide the reason for their visits. HLT Director Sami Awad calls the demolition of illegally-built homes “ethnic cleansing”. ?10,000 from MENA CP and ?5000 from Bilateral Program Budget in 2010/11. “To build a Palestinian peaceful network in Bethlehem district.”
  • International Peace and Cooperation Center (IPCC), a Palestinian NGO, focuses on planning and zoning issues in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Alleges that the motive behind the security barrier is “redrawing the borders of the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality,” and that Israeli policy in Jerusalem “aims to segregate and paralyze the urban fabric” of the city). Claims that Jerusalem city officials ensure that Palestinians “know who’s the boss and where their place is!!!”. IPCC maintains that Jews should be “particularly sensitive to injustice and discrimination,” erasing the context and history of the conflict regarding Jerusalem. ?400,030 from MENA CP in 2010/11. “To support projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank that help Palestinians better understand and effectively use the Israeli planning laws, in order to gain planning permission – both retrospectively for existing homes and prospectively for new homes on their side of the Green Line.”
  • Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a Palestinian NGO, was established in 1993 with a declared mandate of ensuring that all laws and agencies of the “State of Palestine” and the PLO “meet the requirements for safeguarding human rights.” It is involved in internal Palestinian matters and does not appear to be active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. ICHR refers to explosions in Hamas military training camps and deaths in tunnels between Gaza and Egypt as human rights violations against Palestinians. ?85,397 from MENA CP and ?69,907 from Strategic Program Fund in 2010/11. “To monitor Palestinian places of detention and provide guidance on improving standards.”
  • Economic Cooperation Foundation, an Israeli NGO claims to foster “Israeli- Palestinian and Israeli-Arab cooperation in the political, economic, and civil society spheres” in support of a two-state solution. The organization does not have a website and official information is unavailable online. ?139,000 in 2010/11 from MENA CP. “To a) define common ground for coordinated progress (in state-building and in negotiations) towards a two-state solution and b) to identify security concepts for the improvement of Israeli/Palestinian security coordination and the creation of a secure and stable environment necessary for peace-making.”
  • Peace Now, an Israeli NGO – £310,000 in 2008-11 from MENA CP. “To record, highlight and challenge settlement expansion activities, through legal action, public advocacy and dialogue with Israeli officials.(Peace Now is outside of NGO Monitor’s purview.)

Israeli NGOs which recently stopped receiving MENA CP funding:

  • Ir Amim engages in legal and political advocacy regarding Jerusalem, including highly politicized tours and publications promoting the Palestinian narrative under the banner of promoting “a sustainable two-state solution.” While often perceived as encouraging coexistence, officials acknowledged that the group was “seeking to advance a political agenda, and was not an organization geared to promote coexistence.”

This NGO’s strident political advocacy includes the Jerusalem Moments films, which, as noted by Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz, “contained just about every imaginable one-sided, context-deficient, unbalanced misrepresentation of Israel rolled into one nasty package… a relentless Palestinian Israel-bashing, interspersed with near-relentless Israeli Israel- bashing.”An Ir Amim blog entry in the Huffington Post, dated April 27, 2010, appeals to the US Government to, “Threaten [Israel] with severing diplomatic ties. Threaten us with cutting back on, or even cutting off, the annual support package. Bludgeon us over the head and force us to wise up.”  £127,850 in 2008/09 from MENA CP. “To influence the nature and quality of public policy debate and ultimately Israeli policy in line with political options for a sustainable two-state solution.”

  • Yesh Din claims to protect human rights by issuing reports on human rights abuses in the West Bank and petitioning the Israeli High Court of Justice. This NGO attempts to use the Court to alter official policy, in particular on security issues. In December 2010, internal documents from Yesh Din revealed efforts to file police complaints against Israelis knowingly without proper evidence. Other documents expose Yesh Din’s plans to advance “war crimes” accusations against Israeli soldiers.

Other tactics include plans to “turn to foreign courts” to sue the Israeli Government on behalf of Palestinians. £350,755 in 2008-2011 from MENA CP. “To challenge Israeli settlement construction and increase Palestinian access to lands in the west bank through legal actions and public advocacy.”

  • Gisha engages in advocacy, media, and legal campaigns alleging that Israel violates the freedom of movement of Palestinians. Gisha’s statements on Gaza contain important factual and legal omissions and misrepresentations of international law, claiming that “completion of the disengagement plan has not absolved Israel of its obligations to permit and to facilitate the proper functioning of civilian life in the Gaza Strip.” Blames Israel for restrictions beyond its control, such as placing responsibility on Israel for the closure of the border between Egypt and Gaza, and for the US State Department decision to refuse entry to Palestinian students.

Examples of inflammatory rhetoric include “apartheid” claims, and accusations that Israel is taking steps “to empty the West Bank of Palestinians because of Israeli territorial claims there.”£70,010 in 2008/09 from MENA CP. “To use legal actions and public advocacy to support free movement and access to goods, and to document human rights violations in Gaza.”

  • Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) claims to monitor Israel’s human rights record in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Through political and ideological advocacy, ACRI accuses Israel of “collective punishment” and claims that the security barrier is a “clear violation of international law.” It makes accusations of racism, even in cases where policies are not discriminatory, such as random checks by the Israeli Tax Authority.

ACRI contends that “defining the State of Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ in a binding article in the constitution is problematic, on the theoretical and practical levels.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Beinisch rebuked ACRI for falsely employing “apartheid” rhetoric in a petition challenging a security measure. £73,000 from MENA CP in 2008/09. “To reduce incidents of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Palestinians in the west bank through public advocacy and legal actions.”

  • Bimkom is a highly politicized organization that claims to “strengthen democracy and human rights in the field of planning.” Criticizes Israel’s planning procedures and has tried to “retroactively legalize illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods” of Jerusalem. Although it claims to work with both Jewish and Arab populations, all campaigns and key projects address Palestinian and Arab communities.

In 2006, Bimkom published a study accusing Israel of constructing the security barrier as a “land-grab” in order to annex territory, ignoring the context of terror. The Israeli Foreign Ministry criticized British financial support for the study, stating that “it is interference by Britain in an internal Israeli matter…. This is not acceptable in international relations.”

Bimkom regularly responds to events outside its stated mission and participates in political action unrelated to planning rights, such as petitioning against “collective punishment” in Gaza and accusing the Israeli army of targeting Palestinian medical teams and ambulances. £22,978 from MENA CP in 2009/10.

Currently funded NGOs/Projects by Bilateral Programme Budget:

  • Shadia Mansour’s Visit to Palestine funded a British hip-hop artist’s tour of the Palestinian Authority. Mansour sang “they came and destroyed our houses; they came and killed our children” to young Palestinian children and who collaborated on a song containing lyrics such as “Israel is a terrorist state.” £2000 from Bilateral Program Budget in 2010/11. “To promote a modern UK and bridging between the West and the East.”
  • Hand in Hand, an Israeli NGO, claims to be a coexistence organization that runs bilingual and multicultural schools for Jewish and Arab children. Classes are reportedly co-taught by Jewish and Arab teachers, and educational priorities include pluralism, equality and the democratic process. There is no indication that this project is involved in delegitimization campaigns. ?11,743 from BPB in 2010/11.
  • Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli NGO, aims to improve healthcare for children suffering from cardiac problems in the developing world. It brings children from developing countries to Israel for surgery and sends Israeli medical delegations to partner countries to train medical personnel. There is no indication that this project is involved in delegitimization campaigns. £10,302 from BPB in 2010/11.
  • Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) aims to “strengthen academic links between universities in the UK and Israel.” £10,000 from BPB in 2010/2011.
  • Intellectual Creative Forum (IBHAR), a Palestinian NGO, produces theatrical productions in the Palestinian Territories (no English website available). In 2009, IBHAR staged a play entitled “Jerusalem: The Bride of Arab Capitals” focusing on “the importance of Jerusalem for Arab people.” £5000 from BPB in 2010/11. To develop “the capacity of in – house productions to produce different media and art activities that can convey positive massages [sic].”
  • Nur Al Ain Society, a Palestinian NGO provides services and works to achieve equal opportunities for the blind. ?5000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To promote social integration and inclusion for the visually impaired Palestinian in East Jerusalem through sport activities such as the goal ball and Judo games.”
  • Al Najah University, located in Nablus, is the largest university in the Palestinian Authority. ?7000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To improving the media unit services at the University through the provision of modern media equipment leading to developing the student’s media skills.”
  • Palestinian Swimming Federation and Aquatic Sports is the official delegation representing the Palestinian Authority at international aquatic competitions.  ?5000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To help swimmers and swimming coaches to provide physiotherapy to physically disabled kids through special swimming sessions.”’
  • Palestinian Paralympics Committee is the official committee representing the Palestinian Authority at the Paralympics Games (no official website). ?6500 from BPB in 2010/11. To train and prepare “three Palestinian women with disabilities for London Paralympics 2012.”
  • Beit Sahour Cooperative Society for Health Welfare, Shepherds’ Field Hospital, a Palestinian NGO, provides services to Shepherds’ Field Hospital (no official website). ?8000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To upgrade the women clinic and provide better and effective services to pregnant women through the provision of a modern delivery bed.”
  • Hope Flowers School in the Palestinian Authority, teaches peace-building, non- violence, and social skills to children aged 5-14, working with students recovering from trauma and those with special-needs. ?4500 from BPB in 2010/11. “To improve the academic performance of the students and upgrading their IT skills and access to educational resources through upgrading the school’s library.”
  • Palestine Association for Children’s Encouragement of Sports coordinates after-school sports activities for children in 71 locations across the Palestinian Authority. £4000 from BPB in 2010/11. To improve “the sport skills of 200 Palestinian children and helps them to be away from the streets and the conflict.”
  • Salfeet Children Club, a Palestinian NGO (no website or online information available in English). £4000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To rehabilitate the club’s playground to help the children to develop in a safe place.”
  • Ibrahim al Khalil Path is a four-day hiking trail through the West Bank offering overnight accommodation for tourists in Palestinian homes. £4500 fromBPB in 2010/11. “To create and promote the infrastructure for a sustainable tourism economy in rural villages participating in the Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil (Abraham’s Path).”
  • An Nahda Women’s Association, a Palestinian NGO, runs a rehabilitation centre for mentally and physically challenged children (no official website in English available). £4500 from BPB in 2010/11. “To improve the educational opportunities for mentally challenged children through the provision of a special classroom at An Nahda School.”
  • Palestinian Child Support Society, a Palestinian NGO (no website or online information in English available). £5000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To help children with hearing problems in the Middle refugee camps through providing diagnostic and therapeutic sets.”
  • Al Jenoub Society for Women’s Health, a Palestinian NGO (no website or online information available). £5000 from BPB in 2010/11. “To improve women’s health issues among women of Kherbt Al Adas area through establishing a training centre.”