These groups include, among scores of others, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and the Israel Committee against Housing Demolitions. The suit charged that the EU funnels tens of millions of taxpayers’ euros to such groups, but with none of the transparency or accountability that are required. The NGO Monitor petition stated that the EU was preventing independent evaluation of its NGO funding.
Evidence for the funding of these groups was in fact clearly revealed in a leaked document of a meeting of the Selection Committee of the EC on September 29, 1999 on NGOs. This document related, among other things, the allocation of funds to support about 20 projects such as Peace Now and those termed spreading “the ‘peace message’ among the radical Jewish settlers.”
After refusing for over a year to supply the requested information, the EC did supply some documents with most of the details redacted or deleted. The original EU refusal to release information, as, according to the European Freedom of Information Law, it must, was blocked on the mystifying grounds that revealing the requested information might pose a danger to “public security” and “commercial interests” in the unstable Middle East.
The European Court itself agreed on November 27, 2012, that the EU did not provide the documents in a timely fashion and this was “an implicit decision to refuse access.” The Court found that EU officials had censured details of the documents and the conclusions concerning them; yet, illogically, it upheld the denial of access, and rejected the claim for information as “manifestly inadmissible” and “in part manifestly lacking any foundation in law.”
Since June 2005, the EU has given more than $48 million to over 90 NGOs based in Israel, who are regarded as critical of Israel. A double problem exists. These groups are partisan and critical of Israel. Moreover, although the EU itself has stressed the importance of a high level of transparency to ensure that it is open to public scrutiny and accountable for its work, there is no transparency whatever regarding the allocation of most of these funds. It would appear, as the founder and head of NGO Monitor, Dr. Gerald Steinberg,commented, “the only reasonable conclusion is that the EU has something to hide,” and that the “secret funding funding of Israeli NGOs grossly impinges on and seeks to manipulate the Israeli democratic process.”