Thursday, 23 May 2019 - 18 of Iyyar, 5779

Norway opposes boycott of Israel, will ‘rigorously supervise’ funding of anti-Israel groups 

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OSLO—The Norwegian government announced that it would ‘’rigorously supervise’’ funding of anti-Israel non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Monday, following in the footsteps of southern neighbor Denmark.

“Boycott creates distance, while the Norwegian government believes in dialogue and cooperation to create mutual trust as part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said a Norwegian government statement.

“This decision is another expression of the Norwegian government’s consistent opposition to boycotts against the State of Israel.”

The Norwegian announcement reflects the country’s 2018 governmental policy that refuses to support organizations promoting boycotts of Israel.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan praised Norway’s announcement, describing it as a “further, critical step in damaging the pro-boycott organizations” and added that his ministry will continue to act to expose European funding of Palestinian organizations that delegitimize the State of Israel.

“The Domino effect continues… Norway won’t be the last,” Erdan wrote on his Twitter account.

According to Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a large portion of European aid granted to Palestinian NGOs is distributed through the Norwegian Refugee Council. Norway and Sweden are described as the most transparent European countries.

Oslo follows Copenhagen 

Last Friday, Denmark also announced that it will cut back on support for Palestinian NGOs and introduce “rigorous” monitoring of the destination of Danish funds.

“Denmark supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I am sure it will strengthen the work that we will focus on Danish assistance in the future, so we are absolutely sure that the money is being used for the right purposes,” said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.

“Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations can play a key role in attenuating and over time resolving the high-tension conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

“Denmark supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I am sure it will strengthen the work that we will focus on Danish assistance in the future, so we are absolutely sure that the money is being used for the right purposes.”

Speaking 48 hours after  Denmark said that it would implement more stringent vetting of the country’s aid to Palestinian NGOs, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he had met with Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and spoken to Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen by phone to demand Copenhagen stop supporting organizations that support terrorism and promote boycotts of Israel.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that during meetings with European Foreign Ministers in Brussels earlier this month, he had asked them to tighten conditions for providing money to Palestinian NGOs.

“Denmark has decided to take this step, it is not the first (country), and it will not be  the last,“ Netanyahu said.

The Danish decision followed an internal investigation conducted by the  Danish foreign ministry in May that discovered that European money was used to fund a Palestinian women’s center in Burka, northwest of Nablus, named after Dalal Mughrabi, the mastermind of the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre that killed 37 people. Samuelsen said that from now on, support for Palestinian NGOs will require “rigorous” supervision.

European funding for Palestinian charities that appear to violate European Union rules has been an issue for Israeli watchdog groups for years. Pro-Israel groups in Israel, in the US  and in Brussels regularly accuse European Union Member states of violating EU policy vis-à-vis terror financing in order to fund Palestinian groups with links to terror groups. One such group,

Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor, says a Ramallah-based donor platform known as the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat serves to funnel EU moneys to organizations that appear to be eligible for Union funding such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is included on the EU list of terror organizations.

“We have been following the Secretariat, which is supported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, for more than a decade, said Daniel Laufer, international spokesperson at NGO Monitor. We follow the organization to give transparency to the funds they receive,” Laufer told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“Denmark’s decision is drastic and is testimony [that Denmark wants]change. Taken together with Norway’s decision to pull out of the funding mechanism, and with increased parliamentary scrutiny in Switzerland and the Netherlands, Denmark’s action highlights the belated awareness among Europeans of the need for due diligence and full transparency in NGO funding.”

According to data published on the NGO Monitor website between 2006 and 2018, Denmark provided $12 million of the $45 million total budgeted to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat.

   

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