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svgadminsvgOctober 27, 2011svgNews

UK: Funding of Israeli Leftist Groups Has Been a ‘Success’

The British government gives over half a million pounds Sterling annually, funding Israeli political organizations – nearly all of them leftist – but gives nothing at all to groups in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other Arab countries, who have been struggling to replace the dictatorships running their countries with democratic regimes. The facts of Britain’s largesse to Peace Now and other far-left groups in Israel, as contrasted with its stinginess on spending to encourage democracy in the Arab world, came to light in a document to be published in this week’s edition of Makor Rishon.

The British government document, titled NGOs in the Middle East Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, lists donations to two organizations in Bahrain last year – for a total of 3,698 pounds – as well as donations to five Iraqi NGOs, which received about 500,000 pounds. And, two groups in Lebanon received about 64,000 pounds. Several groups in Yemen also received small sums. Outside of the sums given to Iraqi groups – where the UK until very recently had a major military presence – all other NGOs in the Arab world were given about 100,000 pounds.

London’s interest in the Israel-PA conflict, however, was much greater. All other British government donations listed in the document in 2010 were distributed to Israeli groups, which received over 600,000 pounds, and to Arab groups in the PA, which received about 400,000 pounds. Among Israeli groups, the biggest “winners” were the Economic Cooperation Foundation (which encourages Israel-PA economic projects), which receive 149,000 pounds – followed by the far-left Yesh Din (142,000 pounds) and Peace Now (100,000 pounds). Other groups promoting a radical leftist political agenda, or whose raison d’etre is promoting Israeli-PA relations – such as Ir Amim, ICRC, Gisha, etc. – are on the list as well. The single group that received money in Israel that did not have a specific political agenda was the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Program – which received 5,000 pounds. In the PA, the biggest donations were given to the International Peace and Conference Center, Mercy Corps, and Exact Water Resources.

During a discussion in Parliament last year, the British government’s Minister for Mideast Affairs, Alistair Burt, said that the money given to Israeli groups was designed to have an impact on internal affairs in Israel. “Since we began supporting these programs some significant changes have been made in the Israeli justice system, both civilian and military, and in the decisions they make. They have also raised a significant debate about these matters,” Burt said of the NGO support, “and we believe these activities will strengthen democracy in Israel.”

Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan said that “the fact that foreign countries fund organizations whose purpose is to influence the public discourse in Israel is scandalous. I believe that the Knesset is not doing its job here; it is not enough to legislate rules requiring openness on the source of NGO donations, but they should totally prohibit foreign donations to political groups. It is clear that this funding impacts on the activities of these groups, as they have to satisfy the donors and put Israel in a poor light.  It is a vicious circle that hurts Israel, and it must be halted,” he said.

In a statement, the British Embassy in Israel said that the information was not secret, and was available to the public. “The British government funds human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as it does around the world,” the Embassy said in a statement, adding that the British government had also funded other groups, including Zaka and Yad Vashem, in other capacities.

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