Readers were instructed on hypocrisy and insolence in Alan Baker’s column on August 1, “Undermining the Oslo Accords: Norway and the EU’s hypocrisy and double standards.” Baker accuses Norway and the countries of the European Union of facilitating international funding for supporting and encouraging Palestinian terror, violating international counter-terror instruments and undermining provisions of the Oslo Accords that call for the prevention of terror.
All due to the announcement that these countries are planning to renew funding to six Palestinian civil society organizations, which Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared to be terrorist organizations, due to the so-called evidence provided to them about the connection of these organizations with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
All European Union countries and Norway are firmly opposed to terrorism. Hence, if these countries were convinced that the Palestinian civil service organizations support terrorism, there is no doubt they would, based on their policies and laws, end their funding. However, they expect claims against organizations they fund to be supported by evidence and proof. This is especially so when it comes to such a dramatic decision that severely damages a series of human rights organizations that have been operating for decades and are known to everyone who works in the territories, as those who are trying to create basic conditions for the existence of democracy in Palestinian society.
Baker, have you seen the evidence? Has anyone in the Israeli public seen them? Has any evidence been presented for the claim that these organizations finance terrorism? The professionals in the countries that fund these organizations, as well as the professionals in the United States, our great and loyal friend, to whom the information was presented, announced that the evidence was absolutely unconvincing.
The European Anti-Fraud Office conducted a thorough investigation for nine months and reached a conclusion that the claims against Al-Haq were baseless. On what then are your claims based, Baker? As an international lawyer, you should know that the burden of proof is on Israel, which did not meet this obligation.
Israel's concern for others
Israel raises a cry when Russia closes the civil space and harms organizations supported by other countries, such as the Jewish Agency. We are outraged, and rightfully so, when we hear how many of the authoritarian countries around us harm civil society and are proud that this cannot happen here. Well, it can and is happening, and it’s time we look in the mirror.
With our own hands we are preventing the Palestinian civil society from operating and from promoting democracy. This action, without the presentation of a convincing factual basis, stands in stark contradiction to Israel’s claim that it is the only democracy in the Middle East.
THE ACCUSATION of the Norwegians that they are violating the Oslo agreements, of which they are proud, is particularly amazing. A legal examination regarding the violation of the Oslo process, which was supposed to lead to a permanent settlement after five years, in which most of the areas of Area C were supposed to be transferred to the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, shows that Israel is the actual violator.
The interim agreements signed as part of the Oslo process have become, with the actions of Israel, an instrument for continuing the occupation while expanding the settlements, which is 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the Oslo agreements, which Norway facilitated. Premised on a process of separation between the two peoples and the creation of two political entities that live side by side, what remains is mainly a continuous brutal occupation.
The Palestinian Authority cooperates in Israel’s activities against Palestinian terrorism, in the absence of a political horizon or even within a political negotiation, while Israel continues to weaken it, strengthening extremist forces.
In practice, Israel enjoys a lack of responsibility for managing the life of Palestinian cities but continues to restrict the movement of Palestinians, resulting in the creation of a separate infrastructure for transportation and distribution of resources - first and foremost land and water resources in favor of the settlements - while blatantly discriminating against the Palestinian residents.
The vision of the Oslo Accords
This was not the vision the signatories of the Oslo Accords had in mind, and certainly not what the Norwegians had in mind. It takes a great deal of audacity to make claims against the Norwegians for a move they made for the benefit of the two peoples living here - yes, also for the benefit of Israel. No Norwegian will suffer from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the way Israelis and Palestinians suffer.
Attacking a distant country like Norway, which mobilized in favor of promoting the Israeli-Palestinian settlement, is an act of ungratefulness. It should be understood and accepted that Norwegian and EU aid to the Palestinians is an Israeli interest and so is their intention to assist in the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Well, there is certainly a story of hypocrisy here, but it is not of the Norwegians and the countries of the EU, but of Israel and its legal propaganda agents, such as Baker.
The writer is the Israel director of J Street – the political home of pro-Israel and pro-peace American Jews, a board member of the Mitvim Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, an adviser on international affairs to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, a former diplomat in Washington, consul-general to New England and adviser to the president.