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US State Dept

Such NGO projects are exploited for BDS, lawfare and UN campaigns targeting Israel.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The U.S. is offering grants of nearly $1 million for non-governmental organizations that include reporting on Israeli “human rights abuses” against the Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

The announcement by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) raises concerns that politicized Palestinian NGOs will use the reports and grants of up to $987,654 to advance BDS, lawfare and UN campaigns targeting Israel.

The DRL’s February announcement described “an open competition for projects that strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.”

The DRL said the proposals are meant to “collect, archive and maintain human rights documentation to support justice and accountability and civil society-led advocacy efforts, which may include documentation of legal or security sector violations and housing, land and property rights.”

Of particular concern to Israel is that the DRL will give preference to local NGOs having what the Post described as “a proven ability to implement programs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.” The DRL stressed that NGOs and their projects will be vetted to ensure the projects and funding do not benefit terror groups.

Dr. Gerald Steinberg, director of NGO-Monitor, which monitors the funding and activities of NGOs told the Post he has never seen the State Dept. make a funding announcement like the DRL’s.

US funding “generally was not for these more political NGOs under the headings of human rights,” he said.

Steinberg wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointing out that NGO projects sought by the DRL “are exploited for campaigns targeting Israel. These grantees lobby the International Criminal Court and UN frameworks – such as biased Commissions of Inquiry – to sanction Israel, promote BDS and use the ‘apartheid’ label,” the Post added.

NGOs attacking Israel in the guise of human rights are “an industry on the order of at least $50 million to Israel and Palestinian groups from European governments, plus there is UN support. It’s even more if you include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty” – which have accused Israel of being an apartheid state – “and this funding could, in theory, go to them,” Steinberg said.

There has been no shortage of friction between Israel and the human rights community.

On Tuesday, Michael Lynk, the UN rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council accusing Israel of apartheid policies.

Lynk’s report echoed Amnesty International’s controversial report released in February.

In 2021, Israel blacklisted six Palestinian NGOs for having ties with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist terror organization.