Israeli ambassador wants UN to cut funding for human rights group

Israeli UN ambassador Danny Danon called on the UN Security Council Wednesday to suspend UN funding to the B'Tselem human rights group, which had testified at a special meeting of the council on Israeli settlements last week.

Danon told the council during its quarterly debate on the Israeli-Palestinian question that it was "no coincidence" that B'Tselem, which received funding from three UN agencies, had been invited to testify during the special session last Friday.

"It is the start of a cynical cycle in which the UN funds B'Tselem and similar organizations of a particular political agenda, they are then invited to provide so-called expert testimony," Danon said.

"This is a direct interference in our democratic process by anti-Israel elements here at the UN. I call on this council to put an end to UN funding for extremist organizations that seek to harm Israel."

According to the pro-Israel NGO Monitor, B'Tselem, which documents alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians, received a total of nearly 440,000 shekels (115,000 dollars) in 2016 from three UN agencies: UN Women, UNICEF and UN Development Programme.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, told the council that last week's informal meeting on Israeli settlement activity showed that council members affirmed the illegality of settlements.

"What could possibly justify continued paralysis of the Security Council in the face of such systematic, aggressive Israeli violations and blatant defiance of the international community's will?" he said.

He called on the council to take action against settlements, noting that the Palestinians and their Arab partners were in consultations with members of the council to determine a "clear course of action to confront this main obstacle to peace."

During the special session last Friday, Israel-based B'Tselem, along with Americans for Peace Now, had called on the council to take action against Israeli settlement activity, noting that it imperils the prospect of a two-state solution.

"The rights of Palestinians must be realized, the occupation must end, the UN Security Council must act - and the time is now," Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of B'Tselem, told the council.

Israel condemned the Friday meeting, calling it an attempt "to spread lies," while, according to Haaretz newspaper, the US lent its support to B'Tselem and chastised the Israeli government for not promoting free speech.

Last update: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 19:03

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