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Netanyahu says EU has agreed to stop funding an association of left-wing NGOs

PM says his pressure ended international backing for Freedom Protection Council, which he claims ‘undermines Israel’s right to exist’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 29, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool Yedioth Ahronoth/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 29, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool Yedioth Ahronoth/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that following pressure from Jerusalem, the European Union had agreed to stop funding an Israeli association of left-wing groups he accused of seeking to “delegitimize” the Jewish state.

“Following diplomatic efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the European Union announced it will immediately halt its funding for and association with the ‘Freedom Protection Council,’ an NGO operating in Israel,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The statement said the association “undermines Israel’s right to exist and tries to blacken the state’s image around the world.”

The EU has yet to comment on Netanyahu’s statement.

The Freedom Protection Council was established in 2017 by I’lam, an Arab-Israeli media freedom NGO.

It is composed of representatives of dozens of leftist Israeli NGOs including B’Tselem and Adalah, with the stated objective of fighting attempts to limit democratic freedoms in the country and resisting attacks on human rights groups.

It has been accused by right-wing websites and organizations of incitement, of describing Israeli actions in terms of “apartheid” and “war crimes,” and of working to undermine legislation pushed by the government.

According to the Delegation of the European Union to Israel’s website, the EU originally said it would supply the initiative with more than €400,000 in funds between January 2017 and December 2019.

“The overall objective of this action is to ensure active engagement of Civil Society Organizations by countering systemic barriers that limit their participation in policymaking processes,” the EU said on its website.

Netanyahu was quoted as saying Tuesday: “This is just the beginning. We will continue to take determined action against organizations that try to delegitimize the State of Israel and strive to blacken the state’s and the IDF’s name around the world.”

It would be a rare case in which the EU heeds a request by the Israeli government to stop funding an NGO that deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a senior Israeli official quoted by Channel 10.

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