Netanyahu's Office a Big Funder of Controversial Jerusalem Day Flag March

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A march marking Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City May 17, 2015.
A march marking Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City May 17, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Prime Minister’s Office, the Jerusalem municipality and a U.S. nonprofit group fund the controversial flag march that forms a major part of Jerusalem Day, according to the financial reports of Am Kalavi, an Israeli nonprofit group that organizes the annual parade.

The marchers are due to pass through the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday – a route that the Supreme Court has allowed. Am Kalavi’s annual reports state that the group’s main activity is the flag march.

According to those documents, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office provided in 2014 funds accounting for almost half of Am Kalavi’s budget, 49,500 shekels ($12,860). In 2014 the Jerusalem municipality, through a subsidiary, provided 15,500 shekels, a number that was as high as 97,000 shekels in 2012.

One of the documents included in Israeli nonprofit group Am Kalavi’s annual financial report.Credit: Screenshot / Am Kalavi

Other contributors to Am Kalavi have been Amana, an organization that works to establish settlements and outposts. It gave 380,000 shekels in 2013, while the U.S.-based Central Fund of Israel gave 34,000 shekels in 2014 and 24,000 shekels in 2012.

American contributors to Central Fund of Israel are entitled to tax refunds on their contributions.

The Prime Minister's Office and the Jerusalem municipality have yet to respond to Haaretz’s questions on funding they provide for the march.

Am Kalavi was established in 1986 to “act in the public, political and cultural sphere for the revival of the Jewish people in their land, based on the Torah and national-religious Zionism.”

On Jerusalem Day, Israel celebrates the reunification of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War, when Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem fell under Israeli control.

Each year thousands of religious Zionists carry Israeli flags through the Muslim Quarter; in previous years they have shouted slogans such as “Death to Arabs.” This year’s event will be particularly tense because the first night of Ramadan is expected to fall on the same day.