France gives $10M to Palestinian group that promotes Israel boycott

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The French government has allocated about $10 million to a Palestinian organization that is a leading promoter of the boycott Israel movement.

Promoting that boycott has been found illegal in France in several high-profile cases.

The French Development Agency, or AFD, which focuses on “on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance,” last year gave an 8 million Euro grant to the NGO Development Center, or NDC, a Palestinian group that says it promotes good government practices in the West Bank. It was behind the 2008 “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” a document includes a rejection of “any normalization activities with the occupier [Israel], neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”

NGO Monitor, an Israeli group that investigates the activities of non-governmental organizations and foreign government in the framework of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in a statement last week called on the French government to “revise its grant in line with France’s clear rejection of BDS.”

In France, dozens of promoters of a boycott against Israel — including through the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement, or BDS — have been convicted of inciting hate or discrimination based on the Lellouche law, passed in 2003, which extends anti-racism laws to the targeting of specific nations for discriminatory treatment.

AFD Spokeswoman Magali Mevellec said that the funding “conforms to French law,” but offered no further commentary in a response to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s query on the issue.

France “supports strengthening local capabilities that improve the lives of populations” in what France considers Palestinian territories, Mevellec said.

“The sole purpose of France and AFD is improving the welfare of [those] populations,” she said.