UK Funding for NGO Political Advocacy
For more information read NGO Monitor’s report, “Exploiting Justice: How the UK, EU, & Norway Fund NGO Lawfare Vs. Israel,” February 20, 2014
- The British government provides millions of pounds annually, through direct and indirect funding processes, to highly politicized NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that operate in the UK, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
- UK funding is generally aimed at “support[ing] efforts to achieve a two-state solution, that sees a viable Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel.”
- In contrast to this objective, the British government partners with and supports NGOs that undermine peace efforts and increase tensions. For instance, some UK-funded organizations pursue partisan and divisive agendas, and are heavily involved in lawfare and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns.
- In 2011-2015, the UK has been allotting £6 million to an NGO known as the Norwegian Refugee Council. According to British government documents, this money is used to pursue legal cases aimed at influencing Israeli policies, to lobby for international sanctions against Israel, and to support international campaigns of demonization.
Direct funding for political advocacy NGOs
- Direct funding to Palestinian and Israeli NGOs is provided through two frameworks:
- The Middle East and North Africa Conflict Pool (MENA CP), managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the Ministry of Defense. This framework includes the Strategic Programme Fund and the Conflict Prevention Pool.
- The Bilateral Programme Budget (BPB) is managed locally, usually through the Embassy in Tel Aviv or Consulate in Jerusalem. It provides funding for small-scale NGO projects.
Examples of British Funding, 2012-20131
|International Peace and Cooperation Centre||€563,000|
|Civic Forum Institute||€60,000|
|Oxford Research Group||€35,000|
- International Peace and Cooperation Centre 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!!!”
- Yesh Din is a leader in attempts to portray Israel and its security forces as unaccountable to the rule of law, as part of a wider strategy of bringing false “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts and in the International Criminal Court (ICC). This NGO employs demonization and “apartheid” rhetoric in some of its activities, exploiting the language of human rights for political and ideological objectives.
- Terrestrial Jerusalem claims to “to identify and track the full spectrum of developments in Jerusalem that could impact either the political process or permanent status options, destabilize the city or spark violence, or create humanitarian crises.” Promotes a one-sided approach to the conflict, placing sole blame for the failure of the peace process on Israel, and lobbies intensively against policies and projects undertaken by the Israeli government and Jerusalem municipality designed to benefit the city’s residents, Arab and Jewish.
UK funding for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC):
- The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has provided the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) with two grants totaling £6 million (FY10/11-14/15) for an extensive legal advocacy project targeting Israeli policy in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- This massive DFID funding, which is in turn transferred by NRC to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, is being used to pursue hundreds of legal cases aimed at influencing Israeli policies, to lobby for international sanctions against Israel, and to support international campaigns of demonization. A lawyer connected to the program reportedly stated that the strategy is 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.”
- As of May 2013, UK funding financed 677 cases that received “full legal representation at the relevant court/administrative body.” According to one assessment, the data suggest that 35% of all legal cases dealing with housing, land, and property claims in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank are funded by the UK via NRC.
- According to documents relating to the funding, “NRC hopes to obtain legal precedents in public interest cases.” However, “without DFID funding, [NRC’s] capacity to take on public interest cases would be greatly reduced and the strategy of using such cases to highlight key issues of concern and increase international pressure on Israel would be less effective.”
- As part of this project ostensibly focused on Israel, NRC also financed a complaint against Canada at the UN Human Rights Committee, impugning the Canadian justice system and calling for censure of Canada.
- The information available on the British government’s Development Tracker website reflects limited transparency. Details on the NGO recipients of funding disbursed by NRC are “withheld.” Additionally, NRC’s “low visibility policy” suggests a deliberate attempt to prevent public scrutiny and to avoid accountability vis-à-vis the Israeli democratic process.
- The evidence suggests that the British government has little control over how NRC uses taxpayer funds and was unable to prevent the resulting abuse and damage. It also appears that further funding was provided to NRC without proper accountability or careful consideration of the implications of British government support for NRC’s legal advocacy.
Lack of transparency
- Information on projects funded by the Department for International Development (DFID – “UK Aid”) is available in a projects database. However, local NGO recipients, which receive UK funds via international organizations, appear anonymously as “donor country based NGO” or “civil society organizations / NGOs” (“Supplier Name Withheld”).
- Additionally, details on grants to Palestinian NGOs no longer appear on the website of the British Consulate in Jerusalem. NGO Monitor emails to the Consulate received no response.
Indirect funding for political advocacy NGOs, 2013
- The British government also provides indirect funding to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs via British aid organizations, such as Christian Aid and Oxfam GB, which channel government funds to local NGOs.
|British NGO||Local Recipient/Partner||Funding (NIS)|
*The information in this section is based on the Christian Aid website and on reports to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits.
- Zochrot, an Israeli NGO, seeks to “raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba…The memory and responsibility that the Jewish public should take on the Palestinian Nakba are basic conditions to peace between people, but it is not enough. Along with it, the rights of the refugees to return must be accepted.” This agenda is equivalent to calling for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Indeed, Zochrot officials have also publicly supported a one-state framework. Eitan Bronstein stated, “I don’t know who will want to return, but whoever will want to- let him return. And if the result is that there will not be a Jewish state, then there won’t be one. My preferred concept is one state from the sea to the Jordan River” (emphasis added).
- Al Haq is a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaigns. The organization regularly files lawsuits and submits politically motivated reports to the UN Human Rights Council and other international bodies. For instance, in 2013, Al Haq issued a position paper, “Feasting on the Occupation,” calling on the European Union and “relevant United Nations (UN) bodies” to boycott Israeli produce. Similarly, in a report entitled: “Legitimising the illegitimate” the organization proposed sabotaging the Israeli court system by “flooding the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functioning and resources.” The Israeli Supreme Court has identified Al Haq’s general director Shawan Jabarin as “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.”
- EAPPI is a church-based organization that frequently uses inflammatory and demonizing rhetoric against Israel; engages in boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns; supports the Kairos Palestine document, which denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel; participates in activities commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe); and promotes the “right of return,” meaning the end of the state of Israel as a Jewish state. In November 2013, representatives from EAPPI lobbied the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel, encouraging churches worldwide to increase “advocacy that might affect their countries’ foreign policy on the Middle East,” and seeking to block the Horizon 2020 program.