• Home
  • Bdm News
  • UK charity under pressure over donations to Israeli settlements

BDM Weekly

UK charity under pressure over donations to Israeli settlements

A UK charity is facing regulatory scrutiny and political pressure following revelations that it is acting as a conduit for donations to illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.

UK Toremet receives donations on behalf of vetted ‘recipient agencies’, making it “easier to gift money to charities outside the UK byfacilitating a UK tax receipt and Gift Aid qualification.” It has distributed more than £1 million to organisations in the UK, Israel, and elsewhere.

In September 2015, I revealed how UK Toremet’s list of approved recipients included several groups operating in, or for the benefit of, Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), colonies which are illegal under international law.

Recipient agencies who receive donations via UK Toremet include a religious school in the heart of Hebron, a foundation established “for the benefit of the residents of [West Bank settlement] Efrat”, and the Gush Etzion Foundation, which supports settlements south of Jerusalem.

Answering a question in the House of Lords last October, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office said the Charity Commission had written to UK Toremet’s trustees and would be “meeting them to review the governance, policies, procedures and operational activity of the charity.”

Last week, a Charity Commission spokesperson confirmed to me that the Commission “has an open case and is engaging with the charity.” (UK Toremet CEO and founder Jonny Cline did not respond to requests for comment for this piece.)

Meanwhile, several dozen Members of Parliament have signed a new Early Day Motion (EDM) that “expresses serious concerns regarding donations to UK charities that are alleged to be funding construction projects at Neve Daniel”, an Israeli settlement west of Bethlehem.

Though not mentioned by name, the EDM has been confirmed as referring to UK Toremet. The construction project in question is a new campus for a West Bank-based religious school, Makor Chaim, being built on 32 dunams of land adjacent to Neve Daniel.

According to the school’s website, building permits were issued by Israeli authorities in the summer of 2015, after the land was “clear[ed]… of contesting Arab claims.” The site, the school adds, “will serve as the beachhead for a whole new expansion, tripling the size of Neve Daniel.” A Facebook page dedicated to the new campus shows that bulldozers recently begun work on the site.

The school website states that “if a UK based donor wants a UK eligible tax deductible receipt”, then the money should be sent via UK Toremet (the charity also lists Makor Chaim as a recipient agency).

The EDM’s primary sponsor is SNP MP Tommy Sheppard. Other sponsors are Labour MP Paula Sherriff, SDLP MP Mark Durkan, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, and Stephen Kinnock, PPS to the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills. Since it was tabled less than two weeks ago, the EDM has attracted the support of 39 cross-party MPs.

The EDM notes that “existing UK case law demonstrates that activities carried out abroad are not charitable if contrary to public policy” and “affirms that charity funds should under no circumstances be directed towards the development or maintenance of Israeli settlements in the OPTs.” The text also “calls on the Government to liaise with the Charities Commission to investigate this matter.”

The British government already actively discourages UK citizens from pursuing “economic and financial activities in the settlements”, based on the “legal and economic risks”, as well as the “potential reputational implications” and “possible abuses of the rights of individuals.”

As well as constituting a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s settlements policy is also “inherently discriminatory”, in the words of Amnesty International. A Human Rights Watch report earlier this year described settlements as “part and parcel of Israeli policies that dispossess, discriminate against, and abuse the human rights of Palestinians.”

To date, the Charity Commission has refused to clamp down on charitable giving to Israeli settlements in the OPT. Perhaps the questions being asked about UK Toremet may force the Commission to finally take some action, and end a situation whereby money from the British taxpayer, through the Gift Aid system, is funding projects in illegal Israeli colonies.

Published first by Middle East Monitor.Schermata 2016 07 02 alle 22.21.27

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • During book launch in West Bank for book of essays marking 50 years of occupation, U.S. Jewish literary couple talk about that uncomfortable subject Where do they get the chutzpah to lecture Israelis on the evils of occupation? Since the
    Read More
  • El Al forced to change its policy and pay damages to Renee Rabinowitz, the 83-year-old Holocaust survivor who filed the suit A new court ruling explicitly forbids flight attendants for Israeli airlines from asking women to switch seats to accommodate
    Read More
  • Opponents of the new settlement claim it will create an enclave of Palestinian owned land that will be unreachable to its owners The head of a Palestinian village and an Israeli human-rights group appealed on Wednesday in the High Court
    Read More
  • A UN report has shown that more than 65 million people were forced to leave their home countries last year, becoming refugees due to deadly conflict. The top nations from which refugees fled have one thing in common, they were
    Read More
  • Last December, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett appointed Tel Aviv university philosophy professor Asa Kasher, to author an ‘ethical code’, to define rules in the area of “overlap between academic and political activity”. Last month, Kasher submitted the document to
    Read More
  • East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel. It is also illegally annexed. It is also illegally separated from the rest of the West Bank by an illegal wall. In Jerusalem, Israel boasts of 220,000 illegal Jewish settlers settled on land confiscated from 300,000 Palestinian residents who are
    Read More
load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all

Video of the Week Israel votes to cut off power to Gaza.

Video: Allegations have come forth that Mahmoud Abbas (self proclaimed Palestinian "president") will - on top of asking israel to cut Gaza's power to one hour per day (just approved)now declare Gaza a rebel zone! This (if true) will mean the cutting of all aid to Gaza, the shut down of all bank accounts, stopping of all entry/exit and the international arrest warrants of Hamas officials... Calls for war have already been shouted from the rooftops with cuts to Gaza salaries by the PA, restrictions on diesel fuel (due to the PA refusing to pay), the electricity being cut down again and again (causing various problems for life in Gaza) but now it seems like the final nails are being ever so violently hammered into the coffin. If this rumour is true then conflict with Hamas is inevitable and "israel" will have the perfect excuse to massacre innocents in Gaza due to having a legal means to arrest Hamas members (who will not just hand themselves in obviously). Mahmoud Abbas is ready and willing to collectively punish the entire population of 2 million (mostly children) in the Gaza Strip in order to gain more power and to please his own oppressors. If the aid is stopped, the 80+ percent of Gazans reliant on international food aid will starve, 97% of the water in Gaza is also undrinkable, so with none coming in what's the alternative? The current conditions in Gaza would make any sane person cry and feel sick to the pit of their stomach and the so called president of Palestine is dancing around in his expensive suits licking the feet of his people's oppressors!!! Mahmoud Abbas has to go! This is disgusting! #SAVEGAZA

Boycott Israeli diamond