The European Union is denying that it has ever provided funding to the extreme leftist non-governmental organization (NGO) Peace Now.
The EU’s spokesman in Israel, David Kriss, made the comments in a conversation with Arutz Sheva on Thursday. The interview took place in the wake of the Knesset’s Legislation Committee’s recent support for the proposed NGO bill, which limits the funding that political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may receive from foreign governments and international bodies.
He said that the EU has not provided support to Peace Now for years.
“No Peace Now project was supported in the 2011 budget, and the call for submission of applications for projects for 2012 has not yet been published,” Kriss said, adding, “All projects in Israel which are supported by the EU are clearly listed on the website of the EU’s Delegation to Israel.”
Asked whether it is possibly that the EU intervened in Israeli politics, Kriss replied vaguely, “The EU supports the promotion of the universal values of human rights and peace."
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation had voted to support a bill limiting the funding received by NGOs to 20,000 IS per year, as well as a bill that would deprive NGOs that rely on foreign funding of tax exempt status.
Later reports said Prime Minister Binyamin is considering watering down the law by rewording it so that it would distinguish between three types of NGOs.
The first group will be absolutely prohibited to accept any donations from foreign countries. It would include NGOs that support refusal to serve in the IDF, boycotts of Israel or an armed struggle against Israel. This group would include NGOs such as Adalah and Yesh Gvul.
The second group, consisting of purely welfare and educational organizations such as Magen David Adom and the Hebrew University, will be allowed to receive unlimited contributions.
Organizations in the third group are political in nature and will be required to pay a 45% tax for contributions they receive, unless their heads come before the Knesset for a hearing and are exempted from the tax. NGOs in this group would include the radical left Peace Now, B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights.
While the nationalist camp in Israel praised the original bills, the leftist camp is fighting the bills furiously, as their power comes from foreign funding. Foreign funding is the source of many of the left's public relations campaigns and lobbying groups. Proponents of the bil say that NGOs in Israel effectively act as proxies for the agendas of international organizations and foreign governments - such as Britain, Norway, and the European Union, who grant millions to anti-Zionist and leftist groups - in Israel.
Kriss told Arutz Sheva that the new law will not deter the EU’s continued efforts to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“The EU’s emissaries have urged the sides to resume direct negotiations without delay or preconditions,” he said. “The delegations are in close contact with each other and with both parties, and we intend to hold a meeting in December.”
Meanwhile, a senior official in one of the well-known Jerusalem-based NGOs is claiming that in the period discussed, funds were transferred to Peace Now by the EU through a private bank account and not through the organization's regular account. These claims, however, have not been confirmed.