By B. Cohen
The head of Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor has blasted the US State Department for funding an Israeli election campaign aimed at ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointing out that this is not the first time that US taxpayer funds have been used to finance organizations on the Israeli left.
“US State Department funding provided to this ostensibly non-governmental organization is another example of the lack of due diligence and accountability in the dispersion of taxpayer funding,” Professor Gerald Steinberg, whose organization tracks foreign funding of radical NGOs in Israel, told The Algemeiner. Steinberg was responding to reports that OneVoice International, which describes itself as an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians,” and which has received two grants from State over the last year, is working with an Israeli group, V15, in an anti-Netanyahu campaign ahead of the Israeli elections in March.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, which broke the story, former Obama aides are also involved in the campaign. However, OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler told the paper that “no government funding has gone toward any of the activities we’re doing right now whatsoever” – though she added that her group had used the State Department grants to “build public campaign support for the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations” launched by Secretary of State John Kerry last spring.
Steinberg pointed out that American taxpayer funds have been used for similarly politically-charged projects in the recent past. In 2012, USAID, the US’s largest provider of foreign assistance, donated millions of dollars to Israeli NGOs through the “Peace and Reconciliation Program,” which included support for the so-called “Geneva Initiative” – another grassroots project pressuring the Israeli government to make concessions to the Palestinians.
“After public exposure, the funding was discontinued,” Steinberg said.