Israeli PM Slams NGO after U.N. Anti-Settlement Testimony

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Saturday at a local NGO whose head spoke against settlements at the United Nations, pledging legislation to impair its activities. 

B'Tselem director Hagai El-Ad took part in a Friday U.N. Security Council meeting on Israeli settlements, talking about the 49 years of "the injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem."

"I implore you today to take action," El-Ad said. "Anything short of decisive international action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation."

In a Facebook post, Netanyahu noted El-Ad's appeal to the council to "act against Israel," accusing B'Tselem of trying to gain through "international coercion" what they "failed to achieve in democratic elections in Israel."

"This is not appropriate," he continued, calling B'Tselem "marginal" and "delusional".

In a separate Facebook posting, Netanyahu said he had instructed chairman of the coalition David Bitan to change the law in a way that would prevent youths from volunteering for B'Tselem as their civilian service, which they may perform in lieu of military service.

Unfazed, B'Tselem responded that it "believed the Israeli public deserved a serious debate on the occupation," noting the "wall-to-wall objection to the occupation and settlements at the Security Council."

A spokesman noted there were currently no volunteers in the NGO in the framework of civilian service, and there had only been three in total.

In July, parliament adopted a law seen as targeting left-wing groups critical of the government by forcing NGOs that receive most of their funding from foreign states -- including B'Tselem -- to declare it.

At the Friday meeting, organized by Angola, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela, U.S. Deputy Ambassador David Pressman said the continued building of Jewish outposts on Palestinian land was "corrosive to the cause of peace."

In his Saturday post, Netanyahu noted that Palestinians had attacked Israel before the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements following the 1967 war, as well ongoing attacks from Gaza, even after Israeli withdrawal. 

"These facts prove that the root of the conflict is not 'the occupation and settlements,' rather the ongoing Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders," he wrote.

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