The French government will continue to fund a militantly anti-Israel NGO, despite its involvement in last month's flotilla to break the Israeli army's blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza, France's Embassy in Israel as well as the French Foreign Ministry told Arutz Sheva.
As revealed by an Arutz Sheva investigation in June, one of the leading sponsors of the Freedom Flotilla III – the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine (Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine) – has received more than half a million euros in grants from the French government since 2010.
Roughly half of that funding was granted as recently as 2014, when it received nearly a quarter of a million euros from the French Development Agency – France's version of USAID – to be distributed over a three-year period. That means that the Platform was receiving French taxpayers' money even as it attempted to breech both Israeli and international law by challenging the IDF off the shores of Gaza.
The report prompted Israel's embassy in Paris to lodge a formal complaint with the French foreign ministry.
But the French government is refusing to withdraw its funding for the Platform, which is in fact a coalition of more than 40 anti-Israel NGOs, claiming that since the funds were not earmarked for use on the flotilla specifically it will continue to finance the group.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, a French embassy spokeswoman admitted that "it is true that the French government has financed and is financing the Platform of French NGOs (for Palestine)."
However, she emphasized: "we finance specific projects that are in line with our priorities, which are earmarked, so it's not a general grant to the Platform… so it's untrue to say that money could have been transferred to the flotilla."
"We can't say that we agree to all the positions… the militancy that they do… we don't agree with everything they do, but we finance projects we agree with," she added.
It should be noted that Arutz Sheva's report did not claim that French government funds were going towards the flotilla itself, only that the French government was funding an NGO engaged in hostile acts against the State of Israel.
The embassy was unable to elaborate however on what precise projects are being funded by the French government.
The French foreign ministry gave a similar response, saying the funding to the Platform was justified because it was earmarked for specific projects.
"Projects conducted by French NGOs are individually assessed and, if appropriate, financed, based on their merits," spokeswoman Mounia Gicquel said.
"This does not mean that we subscribe to the positions and orientations of the concerned NGOs."
When pressed, neither the embassy not the foreign ministry would provide an answer as to whether the French government was similarly funding hostile NGOs in other friendly nations.
The flotilla was successfully intercepted by the Israeli navy without any serious incident. Despite claims by activists that they were attempting to bring desperately-needed aid to Gaza, the ships were found to be carrying very little in the way of aid at all.
Israel's blockade of Gaza dates back to 2006, after Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and with rocket attacks escalating against Israeli civilians in the aftermath of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza a year earlier. The blockade was tightened in 2007 when the Islamist terrorist movement consolidated control of Gaza, using it as a launchpad for ever-more intensive rocket attacks against Israeli towns and villages.
Since then the blockade – which is meant to prevent weapons, fighters and other equipment reaching Islamist terrorist groups – has been eased considerably, although weapons and certain other materials are still not allowed to be trafficked in.
Anti-Israel activists have long called for Israel's blockade to be lifted, claiming that it is "illegal." However, in 2011 the UN's official Palmer Report found that the blockade is in fact entirely legal.