Friday, January 22, 2010

European Commission hides criteria for funding NGOs

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 21, 2010, by Dan Izenberg:

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog organization, announced on Wednesday it has filed suit against the European Commission of the European Union, demanding that it meet its own transparency requirements and disclose internal documents revealing the decision-making process and criteria for funding Israeli and Palestinian nongovernment organizations.

Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor, said at a press conference in Jerusalem that the EU has contributed at least NIS 177 million since June 2005 to about 150 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, most of which he said demonized and delegitimized Israel.

...On October 23, 2008, Steinberg asked the EC for the transcripts of meetings relating to the funding decisions for grants to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs for the past three years under the PfP (the Partnership for Peace) and EIDHR (European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) programs. He also asked for other reports and documents.

It took six months for the EC to respond to the request, but even then it only sent a small number of documents and only after whiting out substantial parts of their contents, charged Steinberg.

The EC told Steinberg it could not provide more information because disclosure would undermine public security and also damage privacy and commercial interests.

Attorney Trevor Asserson said none of these were applicable to Steinberg's request. "The EC is throwing up a cloud of obfuscation," he charged.

Steinberg alleged that of the roughly 70 Israeli NGOs that receive funding from the EC, three-quarters demonize and delegitimize Israel. These, he charged, included B'Tselem, Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, Yesh Din, Ir Amim, Bimkom, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Adalah, The Israel Committee against House Demolitions, Gisha, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Peace Now, Mossawa, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch and The Center for Alternative Information.

Steinberg added that he regarded all organizations calling for a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel as being anti-Israeli political organizations....
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