The British government has given almost £1.4million in taxpayers’ cash to a campaign group whose publications decry “urban incarceration” of Palestinians and rail against the “separation wall,” a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.
The International Peace and Cooperation Center (IPCC), based in Jerusalem and Ramallah, was last year handed £563,000 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development. These three departments gave the IPCC an additional £800,000 between 2010 and 2012.
The group supports the social and economic development of Palestinian society, but some of its presentations and reports have given cause for concern.
Its latest presentation on Jerusalem, for example, says: “The Israeli planning system considers territorial and demographic security, and through the ‘Master Plan’ they promote the Jewish domination of the Jewish population part of Israel’s national character and image of the city.”
News of the funding follows the publication of an FOI request, originally lodged in February, and comes at a time of increased tension in the region, with Israel’s ongoing military action against Hamas in Gaza.
Among the other groups funded by the UK government are Peace Now, which monitors settlement-building, and B’TSelem, which monitors Israeli human rights abuses. The two groups received more than £500,000 over the past three years.
With tensions over Gaza at boiling point, B’TSelem raised eyebrows last week by criticising Israeli military actions in Gaza as “punitive and illegal”.
It said: “The [IDF] says it is enough for a person to be involved in military activity to render his home legitimate military targets, without having to prove any connection between his activity and the house in which he and his family live.
“This interpretation is unfounded and illegal. Euphemisms such as ‘surgical strikes’ or ‘operational infrastructure’ cannot hide the facts: illegal attacks of homes, which constitute punitive home demolition… come at a dreadful cost.” However Jewish community leaders said the news meant that further answers were needed.
Alex Brummer, vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said: “We need to know which of these organisations are delivering value for the taxpayer and contributing towards a peaceful solution.”