The Netherlands-based foundation ICCO issued the following press release on 13 January 2011 reaffirming its support for The Electronic Intifada, after a meeting between ICCO and Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal. In November, Rosenthal had publicly criticized and promised to investigate ICCO’s support for The Electronic Intifada after NGO Monitor — an Israeli organization with close links to the Israeli government, military and the West Bank settler movement — published a series of false allegations against the publication, as The Electronic Intifada previously reported.
Since 2006, The Electronic Intifada has received approximately one-third of its funding from ICCO. ICCO, a development and human rights agency that works all over the world, itself receives funding from the Dutch government (“Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada,” 30 November 2010).
The attempt to pressure ICCO to de-fund The Electronic Intifada is part of a campaign endorsed by the Israeli government to sabotage so-called “delegitimizers” — individuals and organizations, both Palestinian and Israeli, and those around the world that report on or hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights.
The statement from ICCO is a welcome reaffirmation of the importance of an independent civil society, and the right of such organizations to carry out their work free from pressure to tailor their work or curtail their lawful free speech and advocacy to suit government agendas.
While ICCO itself has not endorsed the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel, it also reaffirms that BDS is a lawful and nonviolent means to campaign for Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians and abide by international law.
Text of ICCO press release
ICCO will not change policy after discussion with Dutch foreign minister
This morning ICCO discussed its funding of the website Electronic Intifada with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal. It was a tough and straightforward discussion, but ICCO sees no reason to change its policy. International law is the main guideline for ICCO’s work.
According the Minister, the site offers a platform for the call for boycott of Israel. Supporting this website is therefore, in the Minister’s view, diametrically opposed to Dutch foreign policy. ICCO disagrees with the Minister on this.
Since 2005, more than 170 Palestinian and some Israeli organizations have called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli policy. The purpose is for Israel to comply with international law and respect human rights. This pressure is justified as the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and other violations of human rights continue. It is a peaceful and legal way to push for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and to achieve a peaceful and just solution.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague declared that the wall built by Israel is illegal as it is constructed mostly within occupied Palestinian territories. The court further confirmed the illegality of the Israeli settlements in these territories. The court called on countries not to render any form of assistance to Israel for the construction of the wall. This verdict was affirmed by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004). The Netherlands voted in favor of this resolution.
In spite of the verdict of the court and many UN resolutions, Israel continues to build the wall as well as settlements.
ICCO itself has not endorsed this call for boycott. Almost all Palestinian civil society organizations and some Israeli ones have endorsed the call. Among them are organizations which receive support from ICCO, but also from other Dutch organizations as well as from the ministry itself. ICCO supports the Kairos Document in which Palestinian Christians call to exert more pressure to change Israel’s policies.
For ICCO, international law and international humanitarian conventions are its main guidelines. Article 90 of the Dutch constitution states: “The government promotes the development of the international legal order.”
ICCO stands for human rights and international law in all its countries of intervention whether it concerns Sudan, Congo, Guatemala or the Middle East. ICCO therefore calls on both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to respect human rights. ICCO aspires, together with its Palestinian and Israeli partners for a sustainable and just peace for everyone: Palestinians as well as Israelis.
It is a good custom in the Netherlands for civil organizations to make their own decisions. ICCO therefore doesn’t see any reason to change its policy.