The European Union is providing millions of shekels to organizations that promote the Palestinian Authority's claims in Jerusalem, according to NGO Monitor. In a report released Tuesday, the group detailed EU support for groups ostensibly committed to human rights and coexistence that are also overtly pro-PA on political issues.
Among the offenders were Ir Amim and B'Tselem, both of which refer to Jews living in historic Jerusalem as “settlers,” despite the fact that the area in question is historically Jewish. All areas occupied by Jordan between the years 1948 and 1967 are considered rightfully Arab, even those in which Jews lived for centuries prior to the establishment of the state of Israel.
B'Tselem and another EU-funded group, the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), described Israeli enforcement of building laws in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as an attempt to drive Arabs out of the city. ARIJ refers to Jewish sites in historic Jerusalem as “illegal settlements,” and refers to the IDF as “the Israeli Occupation forces.”
The groups' positions mirror those of the PA, which claims ownership over all land previously occupied by Jordan, including the Old City, the City of David, and the Temple Mount.
ARIJ, Ir Amim and other EU-funded groups have also delegitimized Israeli archaeological research in historic Jerusalem. Ir Amim has reported that Israeli excavations are an attempt to create Jewish “settlements” in Jerusalem, while ARIJ has blamed Israeli excavations for damage to Arab buildings.
The positions espoused by B'Tselem, Ir Amim, ARIJ, B'Makom, and other such groups have a serious impact on international policy, NGO Monitor warned. EU-funded “studies” conducted by such blatantly political groups have been taken as fact, with EU countries making no independent attempt to verify the findings, the group said.
Among the reports taken as fact were an Ir Amim report claiming that the construction of a synagogue near the Kotel (Western Wall) would harm Muslim sites, and a B'Tselem report claiming that Arabs in Jerusalem benefit from under 10 percent of the municipal budget.
The EU contributed millions to Ir Amim, B'Tselem and other such groups in 2007, NGO Monitor found. The EU, Norway and Britain together paid most of Ir Amim's four million shekel budget in 2007.
NGO Monitor director Professor Gerald Steinberg said the EU funding provided to politically motivated groups such as B'Tselem and Ir Amim “is one of the most damaging aspects of European funding directed against Israel.” The funding given to such groups is used to mount diplomatic offensives against Israel, he said.
Steinberg criticized B'Tselem and other self-proclaimed “human rights groups” for their political activity, saying, “These NGOs should not be abusing their moral claims on human rights and coexistence in order to support efforts to turn back the clock to the dark days of 1948-1967, when no Jews could live or even visit the Old City and the Jewish sacred sites.”