Netanyahu blames New Israel Fund of torpedoing Rwanda deal
PM says NIF, through European states, pressured Rwanda to back out of deal to take in African migrants deported from Israel; NIF slams Netanyahu, saying it 'had nothing to do with Rwanda's decision to refuse to participate in the prime minister's cruel mass deportation plan.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the New Israel Fund (NIF) on Tuesday for causing a deal with Rwanda to be scuppered, saying that through European states, it had persuaded the African nation to refuse to take in the African migrants deported from Israel.
The prime minister tasked Coalition Chairman MK David Amsalem with establishing a parliamentary committee to investigate the NIF.
In a Facebook post, Netanyahu asserted that "The Fund endangers the security and future of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people."
He went on to claim that the NIF, a US-based non-governmental organization, "receives funding from foreign governments and elements hostile to Israel, such as George Soros' funds."
Elaborating on the dangers he believes the Fund poses to the country, Netanyahu wrote that "The Fund's supreme goal is to eliminate the Jewish character of Israel and turn it into a state of all its citizens, alongside a Palestinian nation state free of Jews in the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as its capital."
"For decades, the Fund contributes to anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian organizations, including ones that slander IDF soldiers, such as Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem, and those fighting for Palestinian terrorists, such as Adalah," the prime minister charged.
"I don't know any Western democracy, and particularly not the United States, that would've been willing to tolerate for long such hostile activity funded by foreign countries, as has been the case here in Israel with the Fund for decades," he added.
The NIF denied Netanyahu's allegation and said on its Facebook page that it had not influenced Rwanda's decision and that he had "once again resorted to lies about the New Israel Fund in order to score cheap political points."
"The New Israel Fund had nothing to do with Rwanda's decision to refuse to participate in the prime minister's cruel mass deportation plan," it added. "All information about the New Israel Fund and its organizations is available, transparent and reported."
Netanyahu, the NIF said, "has crossed every red line in his incitement against the New Israel Fund."
The Fund called on the public "which is anxious of the threat Bibi poses to the Israeli democracy, to stand alongside the New Israel Fund. We also expect support from all party leaders: (Avi) Gabbay, (Yair) Lapid, (Tamar) Zandberg, (Ayman) Odeh, (Moshe) Kahlon, (Naftali) Bennett, (Avigdor) Lieberman, (Yaakov) Litzman and (Aryeh) Deri, as well liberal voices within the Likud."
Meretz leader MK Tamar Zandberg slammed Netanyahu's accusations, saying "The imagined demonization by the prime minister has gone up a notch. If he believes what he's saying, then he is a paranoid person. If he doesn't believe it, he's an inciting liar. In any case, this situation raises real concern for the well-being of the New Israel Fund's people and civil society organizations."
"If the New Israel Fund is responsible for anything here, it's promoting civil society organizations that fought alongside us for a reasonable and logical solution, which was expressed in Monday's outline. What needs to be investigated is the flip-flopping that led to its cancelation," she added.
In his explanation Monday night of why he decided to freeze the UN-supported plan, Netanyahu said that "in the last few weeks, following tremendous pressure on Rwanda by the New Israel Fund and elements in the European Union, Rwanda has withdrawn from the agreement and refused to take in infiltrators from Israel who are forcibly removed. As a result, I decided to strive for a new agreement that would allow us to continue deporting the infiltrators."
Reuters contributed to this report.