Aggressive and coordinated campaign against Norwegian People’s Aid
Today, the Israeli government published a report calling on the European Union to cut funding to more than a dozen organisations that are critical to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Israeli government has made it clear that it is engaged in an aggressive and coordinated campaign against organisations critical to the occupation. The false accusations made by the Israeli authorities against Norwegian People’s Aid demonstrate the ever more challenging environment for those working with fundamental human rights and international law.
Norwegian People’s Aid has been accused, amongst other things, of advocating for a boycott of the state of Israel. It is not the policy of Norwegian People’s Aid to work for a boycott of an individual state. Norwegian People’s Aid works to ensure respect for international law and human rights. Nonetheless it is a matter of concern that organisations that support a boycott of Israel are criminalised and refused access to Israel and Palestine. This is a violation of the fundamental rights of free speech and association.
Norwegian People’s Aid follows the same line as the EU when it concerns international law and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The EU has been consistent in its principled support for international law. The EU has issued guidelines on labelling products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; over 20 EU member states have issued advisories warning its business sector against financial links with the illegal settlements; and settlement entities have been barred from accessing EU funds. Norwegian People’s Aid works to ensure that the Norwegian authorities follow the EU’s good example.
In the report published by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Norwegian People’s Aid is also accused of terror-financing. These claims are both unreasonable and false. The background for these accusations is the settlement Norwegian People’s Aid agreed to with the US Department of Justice earlier this year. Norwegian People’s Aid signed a humanitarian contract with USAID in 2012. Related to this, Norwegian People’s Aid also signed a document certifying that Norwegian People’s Aid had not, during the previous 10 years, had any form of cooperation or association with individuals, organisations or states on the US prohibited lists. The understanding of Norwegian People’s Aid was that this certification concerned only those countries and projects where USAID funds were being used. USAID had a different interpretation, namely that the requirement covered Norwegian People’s Aid total programme portfolio, including funds from other donors. None of the projects which the US authorities claimed were in breach of contractual conditions were financed by USAID.
Norwegian People’s Aid believes that the demands were unreasonable and would have liked to have pursued the case in the courts, but lacked the resources, as a Norwegian organisation, to deal with the American judicial system.
Palestinians in the occupied territories live daily under a repressive occupation and blockade, which have gone on for far too long. Ending the occupation requires a strong Palestinian civil society and international pressure. Change will not come by itself. Norwegian People’s Aid will always support the right of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security, as well the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to independence and freedom from repression, occupation and forced exile.
Read NPA press release of April 3rd.