Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan hit back on Tuesday at the European Union’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, after Haaretz reported on her sharply worded letter blasting his ministry's “vague and unsubstantiated” allegations against the EU.
At the same time, Erdan accepted Mogherini's invitation to Brussels to present proof of his allegations.
Erdan took to his official Twitter account, where he slammed Mogherini's "baseless accusation against me." Erdan wrote that the EU foreign policy chief's assaults "won't stop me from stating the facts: EU taxpayers funds go to NGOs linked to #BDS & #terror. Mogherini invited me to Brussels to present our evidence. I'm happy to accept @EUinIsrael."
In her letter, Mogherini responded to a report issued in May by Erdan's ministry titled “The millions given by EU institutions to NGOs with ties to terror and boycotts against Israel.”
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Erdan had sent Mogherini a letter along with the ministry report in which he wrote: “An in-depth research study conducted by my ministry has revealed that in 2016 the EU funded fourteen European and Palestinian NGOs which openly and clearly promote BDS.”
“Several of the BDS-promoting NGOs that receive direct and indirect EU funding are linked to EU-designated terrorist organizations,” Erdan charged, adding that such funding undermines the EU-Israel relationship and “also undermines the chances for peace.”
The report was leaked to the Israel Hayom newspaper, which reported it under the headline, “Millions of euros of hate.”
In Mogherini's letter, sent to Erdan on July 5, she writes: "Allegation of the EU supporting incitement or terror are unfounded and unacceptable. The title of the report itself is also inopportune and misleading; it mixes terrorism with the boycott issue and it creates unacceptable confusion in the public eye regarding these two distinct phenomena.
“To any suggestion of EU involvement in supporting terror or terrorism,” and that “vague and unsubstantiated accusations serve only to contribute to disinformation campaigns,” she added.
Mogherini said that the report in question contained errors. “For example, of the 13 organizations listed in the report, 6 do not receive EU funding for activities in Palestine and none of them receives EU funds for BDS activity,” she said. “In addition, as reported widely by the Israeli press in recent weeks, a number of the organizations referred to in the report also receive funding from other international donors including the United States,” she added.
With regard to the alleged support for the BDS movement, Mogherini writes to Erdan, “The European Union has not changed its position regarding the so-called ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (‘BDS’) movement.
With regard to the claims of support for terrorism, Mogherini writes, “The EU has very strict rules to screen and vet the beneficiaries of EU funds. We take any allegation of misuse of EU funds very seriously and are committed to investigate all those presented with substantive evidence. We are confident that EU funding has not been used to support boycott of Israel or BDS activities and certainly not to finance terrorism.”