Belgian government funds groups that promise to weaken influence of pro-Israel voices


(JTA) — The Belgian government is financing organizations that in their appeal for federal funding promised to “mitigate the influence of pro-Israel voices.”

The appeal by three nongovernmental Belgian organizations, the Catholic aid group Broederlijke Delen, Oxfam Solidarity and Viva Salud, appeared in a document from 2016 by the Belgian Joint Strategic Framework Palestine, a platform that distributes federal money.

NGO Monitor, an Israel-based organization that investigates the activity and funding of players in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, published a report on that funding Thursday.

Arnaud Gaspart, a spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Ministry, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the document “does not reflect Belgium’s position or point of view.”

In 2018, the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation allocated at least $1.8 million for Joint Strategic Framework projects, Belgian government documents show. In the years 2015-18, it gave approximately $20 million to “NGOs and Civil Society.”

In the 2016 appeal, Joint Strategic Goal No. 3 for “Good Governance, Civil Society and Human Rights” calls for strengthening local civil society organizations “to increase their advocacy efforts towards the European institutions and member states, promoting respect for international law and mitigating the influence of pro-Israel voices.”

NGO Monitor in a statement called this a “misuse of European taxpayer funds to benefit radical groups.”

Another beneficiary of the government funding is the Made in Illegality campaign led by the Belgian nonprofit National Center for Cooperation Development. It calls for boycotting settlement goods and Israeli firms active in settlements. Many major Israeli firms, including its large banks, are active in settlements.

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