By Ben White
A UK charity is acting as a conduit for donations to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it has been revealed, prompting calls for action from the Charity Commission.
UK Toremet receives donations on behalf of what it calls ‘recipient agencies’, organisations or charities in Israel and elsewhere, who donors wish to support.
Among the list of approved recipients are several groups operating in, or for the benefit of, Israeli settlements. These colonies are deemed illegal under international law, and are at the heart of a regime of discrimination and segregation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
One recipient is the Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies at Susya, a settlement whose Palestinian ‘neighbours’ have suffered expulsions and dispossession (and may again). The school claims to be home to “some of the finest sons of religious Zionism in Israel.”
Another recipient agency, Shavei Chevron, is a religious school built in the heart of Hebron in the Occupied West Bank. “Guarded like a fortress by army troops”, according to The Times of Israel, it is “one of the reasons that the IDF decided to close off the route to Palestinian traffic of all sorts.”
Under UK law, “a charity must not provide funding or support to an organisation that exposes beneficiaries to extremist views”, even if “the charity’s funding or support is applied for legitimate charitable activities.” Extremism is defined as “vocal or active opposition” to values like “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
Other recipient agencies include the Efrat Development Foundation, established “for the benefit of the residents of Efrat”, an Israeli settlement in the southern West Bank. Donations can also be made to the Gush Etzion Foundation, which supports some 20 settlements south of Jerusalem and works to maintain “maximum Jewish presence in the region.”
All Israeli settlements established in the OPT are considered illegal under international law, a consensus position shared by the British government, the European Union, the United Nations, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
– Read more: Revealed – the UK Charity Facilitating Donations to Israeli Settlements – Middle East Monitor