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Did you know?

Settlements Generate Virtually No Economic Activity
"A recent Israeli government report estimated there are…$250 million in annual exports — [only] 0.55 percent of the national total — from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories the international community generally considers illegally occupied."
Jodi Rodoren cited by Richard Silverstein, 22 Jan 2014

Daily acts of violence committed by Jewish Israeli citizens against West Bank Palestinians
"These incidents — now particularly heightened during the olive harvest season — are not the aberration from the norm, but a regular feature of life in the occupied West Bank. In 2012, over 7,500 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. In the 5-year period between 2007 and 2011, there was a 315 percent increase in settler violence."
Mairav Zonszein, Israel Must Stop Settler Violence, 8 November 2013
Police impunity
After their own investigations establishing a prima facie violation, Btselem has lodged over 280 complaints of alleged police violence in the oPt since the start of the second Intifada: "we are aware of only 12 indictments" Btselem April 2013
Runners in the first ever Bethlehem Marathon were forced to run two laps of the same course on Sunday 21 April 2013, as Palestinians were unable to find a single stretch of free land that is 26 miles long in Area A, where the PA has both security and civil authority. See Marathon report
30th March, land day.
On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians living as a minority in Israel mounted a general strike and organised protests against Israeli government plans to expropriate almost 15,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Galilee.The Israeli government, led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defence minister Shimon Peres, sent in the army to break up the general strike. The Israeli army killed six unarmed Palestinians, wounded hundreds and arrested hundreds more, including political activists. All were citizens of Israel.
* Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offences committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din, 3 Feb 2013
* In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
Haaretz editorial, 4 Feb 2013


European court throws out claim of secret funding of pro-Palestinian NGOs

Gerald Steinberg, still claiming “In addition to a violation of basic principles of government transparency, the secret funding is trying to manipulate the democratic process in Israel. ” (Ha’aretz)

EU throws out NGO Monitor case, tells Gerald Steinberg to pick up the tab

By Ami Kaufman, +972
December 23, 2012

NGO Monitor and its director went all the way to Luxembourg to sue the EU for lack of transparency concerning the funds its gives NGOs in Israel and Palestine. Last month, the EU Court of Justice threw the case out saying the action was “manifestly lacking any foundation in law”.

About three years ago, those lovely people over at NGO Monitor filed a suit in Luxembourg against the European Union to force the EU to release details of its funding of NGOs. NGO Monitor pulled out all the stops – hiring a top law firm, calling a press conference to announce the move, accusing the EU of a lack of transparency, with director Gerald Steinberg saying that the EU has funneled about $46 million to about 90 NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian territories over three years. This past January, NGO Monitor attacked the German Heinrich Böll Foundation for a grant of 6,000 euros it gave +972 Magazine in 2011.

Well, I’m happy to inform you that the court has thrown out the case, and Steinberg has been left with the bill. According to a ruling dated November 27, 2012 on the official website of the EU Court of Justice, Steinberg’s case against the EU has been thrown out, with Steinberg ordered to foot all legal costs. The judges ruled, “The action is dismissed as, in part, manifestly inadmissible and, in part, manifestly lacking any foundation in law and that “Mr. Gerald Steinberg shall bear his own costs and pay those incurred by the European Commission.”

At the January 2010 press conference, NGO Monitor said it filed the lawsuit at the European Court of Justice because the European Commission had failed to fulfill European Union transparency obligations after Steinberg & co tried for 13 months to secure documents on NGO funding decisions by the EC, the executive branch of the European Union. The Europeans had passed on documents, but not enough to satisfy Steinberg and with some parts redacted. Spokesman for the EU Delegation in Israel, David Kriss, said that “In line with the EU regulations on transparency, the European Commission has provided Prof. Steinberg with comprehensive information on the funding of projects in Israel and in the region. The extensive information at Prof. Steinberg’s disposal is proof of this.” But it wasn’t enough, so he took the Commission to court.

A year later, in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Steinberg charged that Europe needs a parliamentary inquiry on NGO funding. He boasted that NGO Monitor had exposed “the massive and often secret funding for highly political NGOs from European governments, and the European Union in particular.” He talked of the “impenetrable shroud of secrecy” around the processes by which the EU funds groups in Israel and Palestine and accused the EU “blatantly violating the basic rules of funding transparency.”

Understandably, the European Ambassador to Israel, Andrew Standley was angry. In response, he wrote to the editor that “funding of projects by the European Union worldwide is carried out by open and public calls for proposals published on EU websites,” providing the links for where to find the call for proposals as well as the full list of projects funded by the EU in Israel. His letter also states that Steinberg is “fully aware” of the processes undertaken by the EU from the numerous conversations the delegation has had with him on this issues. Far from there being an “impenetrable shroud of secrecy,” organizations that receive funding from the EU are “contractually obligated to make publicly known the source of this funding,” Standley noted.

Well, last month the Luxembourg court ruled in favor of the Commission. The lengthy ruling goes through each and every one of Steinberg’s claims, and repeatedly rejects them for being “manifestly unfounded” or “manifestly lacking any foundation in law.” The Commission claimed that it had to redact certain parts of the document to protect staff identities, or due to the sensitivity of some projects “which may go against the specific interests of or be in conflict with the convictions of certain groups of persons or bodies, situated both in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” In the OPT in particular, there was a risk that if they were identified, they “may be perceived by some radical groups as collaboration with Israel.” The Court ruled that Steinberg did not dispute such facts “nor does he put forward the slightest argument to show that the Commission made a manifest error of assessment in finding that there was a high risk that the activities of the NGOs in question would attract hostile attention which could result in threats to the moral and/or physical integrity of the various persons concerned and thus disturb public security, with the result that it was necessary to blank out certain detailed information on the projects in question in the requested documents. Essentially, he merely make general assertions.”

I wonder if NGO Monitor (who have their own transparency issues) will tell us how they manage to fund the payment of the legal fees…

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