Middle East Monitor / January 17, 2020
The Dutch government has criticised the conduct of pro-Israel advocacy group NGO Monitor, singling out the unreliability of their accusations against human rights defenders.
Responding to a parliamentary question, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok stated that the Netherlands is “concerned about the shrinking civil space in Israel”, and “therefore consistently brings this matter up in conversations with Israeli authorities”.
In recent years, Israeli politicians have pursued legislation that targets, as well as publicly incited against, organisations focusing on Israel’s military occupation and the violation of Palestinian rights.
The Israeli government’s attacks on human rights defenders are aided by organisations such as NGO Monitor, which in particular lobby European authorities to cease funding such human rights groups.
The Dutch minister added that “the government is familiar with the accusations by NGO Monitor against a broad group of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, as well as with criticism of the conduct of NGO Monitor itself”, citing a September 2018 report by the Policy Working Group.
“This research shows that many of NGO Monitor’s accusations are based on selective citations, half-facts and insinuations, but not necessarily on hard evidence”, Minister Blok added.
“These accusations have contributed to a climate in which human rights organisations have come under increasing pressure”.
In response to a separate question, the Dutch foreign minister noted that, “to the best of the government’s knowledge, NGO Monitor … focuses exclusively on organisations and donors who are critical of Israeli policy in the territories occupied by Israel”.