Report: How Arab money is transferred to Israeli Left
After Knesset approves establishment of inquiry commission into activity of leftist groups in Israel, Im Tirtzu report reveals money trail, which it says begins in Arab countries and ends with pro-Palestinian activity in the Jewish state. B'Tselem: Claims unfounded
The report, published for the first time by Ynet Monday night, claims that Arab and European countries support Palestinian funds which donate to leftist movements in Israel "in order to influence public and legal discourse in Israeli and international media."
According to Im Tirtzu, a centrist extra-parliamentary movement that "strives to strengthen the values of Zionism in Israel," the findings prove the need for the establishment of an inquiry commission. The report focuses on two Palestinian organizations – the Welfare Association and the NGO Development Center –which it claims work together to fund pro-Palestinian activities in Israel and the territories.
The report states that the organizations' yearly budget, which is estimated at tens of millions of dollars, comes from a number of sources: Countries and organizations in Europe - including the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark – as well as Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Qatar.
According to Im Tirtzu, large banks, such as the Islamic Development Bank, as well as Arab funds, also allocate money to the Welfare Association and the NGO Development Center, which then transfer 97% of the funds to Palestinians in the territories and some 3% to leftist Israeli organizations.
The report also claims that the Welfare Association is directly involved in Arab activity in Israel, including a campaign against obligating Arab youths to participate in Israel's National Service program.
Im Tirtzu said that among the Israeli organizations to receive funds from the Welfare Association are Adalah, Mada al-Carmel and the Galilee Society.
According to the report, $2.65 million were allocated by the Welfare Association to finance activity in Israel, specifically to boost the socio-economic status of Arab-Israelis and to preserve and foster Palestinian national identity.
The Welfare Association also supports two local councils – Nazareth and Kafr Kana.
Over the past few years the Welfare Association's annual budget stood at roughly $40 million, making it one of the key channels for the transfer of funds to the Palestinians.
'Funding from Saudi Arabia'
A Ynet inquiry revealed that Iran, Syrian and Lebanon are members of the Islamic Development Bank, which is one of the Welfare Association's financial backers.
In 2000, Following the outbreak of the second intifada, the bank established two funds to assist the Palestinians "in the face of continued Israeli aggression" – the Al-Aqsa Fund and the Al-Quds Intifada fund.
The report shows that between 2005 and 2008 the Welfare Association transferred nearly $3 million to Israeli organizations working, among other things, to strengthen Arab identity, promote the right of return agenda and support the campaign against National Service for Arab-Israelis.
In 2006, the NGO Development Center (NDC) was founded on the organizational infrastructure of the Welfare Association to launch projects in the Palestinian sector. The NDC projects were funded by the World Bank and a number of European countries.
According to Im Tirtzu, the NDC is involved in the funding of Israeli and Palestinian organizations promoting activities against Israeli policy and the IDF.
According to the reports published by Im Tirtzu, between 2008 and 2009 it transferred close to $2.4 million to Israeli organizations and about $3.5 million to Palestinian organizations. In 2009 alone, the organization transferred nearly $2 million to 13 different Israeli organizations, including B'Tselem, Mossawa, Adalah, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Public Committee against Torture, HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Fifteen left-wing organizations declared last week that they have "nothing to hide," following the motion to establish an inquiry commission. However, the report said that "an intensive and thorough examination of the funding sources of these organizations and of public documents and online sites of Arab foundations, Islamic banks, Arab media and international research – finds there is extensive support of Arab sources funding extreme left organizations in Israel."
Im Tirtzu claimed that "Arab money funds these organizations working to de-legitimize the State of Israel, calling to boycott Israel, aiding to put Israeli officials on trial for war crimes, strengthening the Palestinian identity of Israeli-Arabs and disconnecting their affinity to Israel, as well as strengthening the Palestinian-Islamic hold on Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, the Negev and Galilee."
B'Tselem officials responded to the claims: "Unlike the unfounded report of Im Tirtzu, the B'Tselem organization is funded by four Israeli-friendly countries: Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Sweden. The money comes from the countries themselves and the NDC is used to transfer the money. Im Tirtzu is welcome to file a complaint with the police if they have further accusations and claims."
Breaking the Silence is blaming Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "Apparently the foreign minister, who's being treated as a persona-non-grata by the western world, has decided to turn Israel into a leper and ruin its relations with Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Sweden. Breaking the Silence received donations only from friendly countries and if the foreign minister, the government and their strategic partners from Im Tirtzu wish to turn them into enemy states, they have the diplomatic tools to do so," it said.
The Adalah organization also rejected the claims, saying, "The Welfare Association is an international foundation which has been operating for dozens of years, supporting human rights organizations and social organizations, enjoying a well respected and important status in European countries, with its headquarters in Geneva. No one has ever disputed its integrity. It was never claimed that the foundation supports or funds any illegal activity. And so its support of renovating of structures in Jerusalem is not only legal but blessed, and follows the norms of the international law. As far as the NGO Development Center – not only is it a completely legal foundation, but it is also supported by many west European governments."
Yuval Mann and Avigail Lushi contributed to the report
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