Israeli minister calls EU ‘blind to hatred’ following rejected report on ‘EU funding of terror’
The May report titled “The millions given by EU institutions to NGOs with ties to terror and boycotts against Israel” was produced by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and claims that in 2016, the EU paid over 5 million euros ($5.9 million) to European and Palestinian organizations that promote the boycott of Israel.
Following the release of the document, Gilad Erdan, the head of the ministry behind the report, tweeted: “The EU continues to finance BDS organizations, some of which are linked to terror organizations, with tens of millions of shekels a year.”
BDS stands for ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ and is a broad coalition of NGOs which seek to pressure Israel politically and economically to force it change its policies toward Palestinians. Supporters of BDS perceive their effort as similar to what was used to pressure South Africa to end its apartheid regime. Israel considers the movement an attempt to delegitimize its existence and a threat to national security.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini responded to the report in a letter to Erdan, which was obtained by Haaretz, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The European official rejected the report’s assertions that the EU money went to fund the BDS movement and terrorism, saying the allegations were “unfounded and unacceptable.”
“The title of the report itself is also inopportune and misleading; it mixes terrorism with the boycott issue and it creates unacceptable confusion in the public eye regarding these two distinct phenomena,” the letter sent two weeks ago reportedly said. She suggested that if Erdan had evidence to the contrary, he could come to Brussels and present it.
Mogherini said the EU allocates funding to particular projects and takes care that its money does not support BDS activities, which the union does not back. She added, however, that the bloc does support freedom of expression and that “any action that has the effect of closing the space in which civil society organizations operate by unduly restricting freedom of association should be avoided.”
Asked for comments on the letter, Erdan lashed out at the EU and its top foreign policy official, saying: “Mogherini admits that most of the funded organizations which appear in my ministry’s report indeed promote boycotts of Israel, yet she employs the ridiculous excuse that the money is given to the boycott organizations but used for other purposes, and not for their activities aimed at boycotting Israel.
“Regrettably, excuses like these also represent the European Union’s policy on other issues, such as its attitude toward Iran and Palestinian terror,” he added. “On these issues, too, the EU has chosen to act like an ostrich and behave as if it were blind to the hatred, incitement and boycotts.”
Firing back, the EU said its “fight against terrorism has never been stronger,” and that it was “confident that our funds have not been used to support boycott of Israel, in particular not BDS activities.”
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