Deputy foreign minister warns Europe to stop funding left-wing groups

Hotovely says B’Tselem, other NGOs are working to ‘blacken Israel’s name’; threatens ‘foreign agents’ legislation

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has warned representatives of the European Union that Jerusalem may make their countries’ funding of left-wing NGOs illegal, according to a Tuesday report.

European governments have contributed between 100-200 million euros to groups, Hotovely said, that actively “work to blacken Israel’s name in the world, accuse it of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and war crimes.”

Some of these groups, Hotovely claimed, even contribute funds to terror groups.

B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Coalition of Women for Peace are among the organizations that Hotovely fingered for getting support from foreign governments.

In a series of meetings with foreign ministers, deputy foreign ministers and ambassadors, Hotovely told the EU diplomats that Israel will not accept the funding of groups that question the legitimacy of the State of Israel, that work toward the Palestinian right of return to pre-67 borders or that slander IDF soldiers, Ynet news reported Tuesday.

If the countries do not stop funding these groups voluntarily, Hotovely warned, the government may put an end to it through legislation.

This legislation could be similar to the United States’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those acting on behalf of other governments and groups to declare themselves as such. The law was passed in 1938 to ensure that the US government would be able to prevent undue foreign influence on domestic issues.

A similar measure proposed by Hotovely earlier in the year would have forced any NGO that receives foreign funding to get Knesset approval for a tax exemption.

The bill was pilloried by civil society groups, which said it would be used to crack down on funding for left-leaning NGOs.

In the recent meetings, Hotovely said she urged the European officials to increase oversight of their funding projects to ensure their money goes toward human rights’ groups and not organizations that work toward Israel’s destruction.

The Danish, Dutch, Swedish and Swiss governments donated $10.5 million to The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, which is run out of the Palestinian Birzeit University.

Germany, Sweden, Norway and the European Union gave over NIS 400,000 to the Coalition of Women for Peace, which calls for international sanctions and a boycott of Israel.

In addition, Denmark and Holland have donated over NIS 35 million to a variety of human rights organizations, Spain another NIS 3.8 million, Switzerland NIS 5 million since 2011.

From 2008-2011, the United Kingdom donated some NIS 12 million to Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, Gisha, BaMakom, Terrestrial Jerusalem and No Legal Frontiers, Ynet reported.

Though Hotovely warned she would make it illegal for foreign governments to donate to “delegitimization organizations,” she did not elaborate on how those groups would be classified as such.

Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds the foreign minister portfolio, Hotovely acts as the country’s de facto top diplomat.

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