Following a detailed debate, on June 16, the Dutch Parliament approved a proposal requiring the government to review funding for NGOs that promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) targeting Israel, and, in particular, the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat based at Birzeit University in Ramallah.A similar debate and vote is scheduled to take place in the Swiss Parliament on June 17. The Dutch and Swiss governments, along with Sweden and Denmark, provide $17 million to this framework over three years ending in 2016. As documented in NGO Monitor research reports, this money is used for core funding to 24 NGOs, including many of the leaders of BDS and lawfare campaigns, such as Badil and Al Haq, and a number of Israeli political NGOs.
In parallel, the British Parliament held a debate this week on the government’s international aid activities, including the distribution of funds by the Department for International Development (DFID). In this debate, MPs cited NGO Monitor research reports on this funding, calling on the government to stop diversion of funds to anti-peace Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. Following the debate, DFID officials announcement policy changes. In response, Sir Eric Pickles, MP declared: “I welcome a shift in DFID’s funding toward peaceful coexistence projects that better support a peace process, along with the Minister’s agreement to look at alleged abuses of British aid by particular Palestinian NGOs.”
In all three instances, the parliamentary debates, votes, and policy changes followed recent briefings from NGO Monitor, based on our research reports. The need for responsible policies regarding NGO funding from Europe has been repeated by Israeli government officials, diplomats, and members of the Knesset in their contacts with European counterparts.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, stated: “These changes and the requirement for close oversight, including the involvement of parliament, mark fundamental changes in the way NGOs are funded by these countries. The extreme secrecy in budgets for radical NGOs, involving tens of millions of euros, opened the door for many abuses, including BDS and other forms of demonization. We expect similar steps in the European Union and other countries that are involved in these activities. And by ending this irresponsible use of tax money, and adopting guidelines like those recommended by NGO Monitor, the need for additional Israeli NGO transparency legislation will also end.”