Israel talks NGO funds with UK official

Ayalon, Lewis discuss UK funding of NGOs with a clear anti-government agenda in Israel.

ivan lewis danny ayalon 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
ivan lewis danny ayalon 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel protested the British government's funding of NGOs during a meeting Wednesday between deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Ivan Lewis, the British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East. Lewis, who took over this post in June, is currently on a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Britain, along with Holland and Spain, were among the foreign governments that funded Breaking the Silence, and - Israeli officials said - Israel has made it a point to raise its displeasure with the foreign funding of political NGOs in recent high level meetings. The officials said that while Breaking the Silence was not specifically raised in the meeting with Lewis, Israel made it clear that it was bothered by foreign government funding of NGOs with a clear anti-government agenda in Israel. At the same time, during the meeting Ayalon praised the strategic relationship and cooperation between Israel and Great Britain, and called on the British government to remain resolute in face of demands for the delegitimization and boycott of Israel. Lewis, at a press briefing Wednesday night, said he felt there now existed what was perhaps the last opportunity in a generation to solve the conflict in the region, and that it was the obligation of the leaders to do so. He said that the solution was to be found within the framework of a two-state solution, in which Israel would not have to worry about its security every day. He said he was concerned that the crossings into Gaza remained closed, leading to increased smuggling through the tunnels into Gaza. He also criticized Jewish housing projects in east Jerusalem, saying they caused friction and suspicion, and didn't help the two sides move forward in the diplomatic process. Lewis said he was also concerned about ongoing incitement by the Palestinians.