The Israel Empowerment Lobby decided to write an explanatory letter to the foreign ministries of Finland and Denmark, after their decision to upgrade the Palestinian Authority representatives in their countries into embassies.
Dear Mr. Tuomioja
The IEL (Israel Empowerment Lobby) is an organization supported by the parliamentarian lobby in the Knesset, together with many Members of the Knesset. We promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and for other shared concerns. Our vision is that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation.
As the chairman of IEL and being deeply involved in the issues concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict, I personally believe that Finland is making a terrible mistake by upgrading the relationship between your country and the Palestinian Authority. Negotiations with the Palestinian Authority must be completed and agreed upon by both sides before other nations decide to interfere with the Palestinian Authority.
It was a pleasure meeting you a month ago in the Parliament in Helsinki and I truly enjoyed our conversation. The Israeli ambassador in Finland spoke highly of you and of your relationship and I believe that you are an open-minded and reasonable gentleman by showing your willingness to come to Israel and to see the conflict with your own eyes. It is very important that you make your own personal decisions about the conflict and do not make the decisions based upon the news headlines and opinion polls which can sabotage the fragile situation in the Middle East.
In 2009, the Finnish Foreign Ministry provided 731 million euros in development funds worldwide via Finnish NGOs and government agencies, 84 million euros of which was channeled to the political NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region. Finnish funding supports politicized NGOs based in Israel, including the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and HaMoked, as well as Palestinian groups such as the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER), and the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA).
Unfortunately, the funding goes to the NGOs that are active participants in the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaign to isolate Israel internationally, employ “apartheid” rhetoric, and pursue anti-Israel agendas in other ways.
Such activities are inconsistent with the Finnish government’s stated goal of promoting Middle East peace. Nevertheless, Finnish government development funds still support several NGOs involved in BDS and similar anti-Israel activities.
The stated Finnish focus in the “Palestinian Territories” is to support the peace process and to set the groundwork for a future Palestinian state. Funding groups that utilize apartheid rhetoric, advance the Palestinian narrative regarding Jerusalem and distort the context of the conflict does not advance such goals.
Nowadays, I personally believe that Finland is making a terrible mistake by upgrading the relationship between your country and the Palestinian Authority. Negotiations with the Palestinian Authority must be completed and agreed upon by both sides before other nations decide to interfere with the Palestinian Authority. Palestine is not yet a state and hopefully, one day, it will become a fully functional and legally recognized state. By upgrading the diplomatic mission of the Palestinian Authority to embassy level hijacks the delicate peace process and further undermines the trust Israel feels toward the Palestinian Authority and toward the world’s support for the peace process.
I hope you will take heed to this letter and in the future, your government will act more carefully and responsibly vis a vis the Palestinian Authority and the peace process. I hope you will have a good time in Israel in June.
Sincerely, Eli Nacht
Dr. Eli Nacht Chairman of IEL