(June 18, 2018 / Israel Hayom) A report claiming that the European Union has agreed to fund a left-wing initiative to pursue legal proceedings against Israeli soldiers sparked a political firestorm on Sunday, with some urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to summon the E.U. envoy in Israel for clarification.
A recent report by NGO Monitor, which promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded Israeli nongovernmental organizations, claims that the program, for which the European Union has allocated some €250,000 ($290,000), was set up at the request of three left-wing groups and is slated to be in place at least until 2021.
The initiative is the brainchild of the groups Yesh Din–Volunteers for Human Rights; Breaking the Silence, an advocacy group dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoings by the IDF; and Physicians for Human Rights–Israel. On their funding application, the groups indicate that they wish to eradicate the “culture of impunity” among Israeli security forces personnel.
“This report shows that E.U.-funded anti-Israel lawfare is now conducted on another level,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel Hayom on Sunday. “It is trying to pave a path to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“These actions undercut Israel’s national security. It is absurd that while Europe enjoys the benefits of Israeli intelligence, which saves lives, the E.U. itself is harming Israel’s security.”
Yesh Din, which initially denied the allegations made by NGO Monitor, later confirmed the initiative’s objectives on its Facebook page.
In a post acknowledging that the E.U.-funded initiative directly targets the security forces, the group wrote: “Every night, Israeli security forces enter the homes of Palestinians across the West Bank for many reasons: raids, arrests, searches, mapping or simply as a show of force or training.
“Who decides which house the soldiers enter? Who makes sure they comply with the law? Our new project, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence, is designed to examine the various practices of forcible entry into Palestinian homes.”
Knesset member Oded Forer of the Yisrael Beytenu Party told Israel Hayom that he plans to introduce a bill requiring groups that receive the majority of their funding from foreign entities to detail their funding sources in any document submitted to the court.
“When a group makes it its mission to target Israeli soldiers and detract from their strength on the battlefield, making them fear future lawsuits, it becomes imperative to carefully scrutinize its [the group’s] ultimate objective and who is behind it,” said Forer. “We cannot allow such groups to use foreign funding to exploit the legal system and harm IDF soldiers.”
Ariel Kellner, director of National Vision–the Center for Zionist Leadership, called on Netanyahu, who as well as being prime minister also holds the foreign minister’s portfolio, to urgently summon European Union Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret and demand an explanation.
“This initiative is liable to tie the IDF’s hands in the war on terror and prevent it from thwarting acts of terror that endanger human life,” said Kellner. “This is hypocrisy and a terrible injustice perpetrated by the European Union.”