Amnesty’s charitable trust requires that the tax benefits it receives be used for “public benefit.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
The UK Charity Commission, which regulates Britain’s charitable institutions, is probing the funding of a recent Amnesty International report accusing Israel of apartheid, the UK Jewish News reported on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the commission who confirmed the probe to the Jewish News said the regulator was “aware” of Jewish concerns raised by the report, and “in line with our standard process are currently assessing information to determine if charitable funds have been used to fund the report and, if so, whether this is of regulatory concern. ”
As a recognized charitable trust, Amnesty receives tax benefits and gift aid. However, according to the Jewish News, the London-based human rights organization “publishes its reports through a limited company, Amnesty International Ltd, which it funds.”
That’s perfectly legal, but under the commission’s rules, charities doing so are required to use the funding for charitable purposes and the “public benefit.”
Jewish critics of the report argue that Amnesty’s report is a political smear that doesn’t serve the public interest.
The nearly-300-page report claimed that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians and its Arab citizens fit the legal definition of apartheid.
“The Charity Commission and HMRC should consider whether the sponsorship of this report by Amnesty International’s UK Charities is compatible with their charitable status and tax benefits,” said Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UK Lawyers for Israel. The HRMC refers to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs which is responsible for the collection of taxes and the payment of some forms of state support.
According to the Jewish News, it was Turner who first raised questions about the report’s funding.
Lord Alex Carlile, a former barrister and member of Parliament described Amnesty’s report as “overtly political,” stressing, “This is on the very edge of their permissible role as a charity.”
Amnesty International told the Jewish News: “Amnesty International will be happy to work with the Commission to answer any questions they might have.”
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