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Minister slams aid report for 'anti-Israel' bias

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Minister slams aid report for 'anti-Israel' bias
08:03 CET+01:00
Sweden's foreign aid minister has criticized the use of taxpayer money to fund a “one-sided” report on the conflict in the Middle East entitled “Colonialism and apartheid – Israel's occupation of Palestine”.

The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) received 700,000 kronor ($106,000) to produce a report on the Middle East conflict.

The money was paid out by Forum Syd, a democracy and rights organisation hired by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to provide the agency with information on the issue.

But the report has prompted criticism from Swedish foreign aid minister Gunilla Carlsson over concerns about a clear anti-Israel bias.

“There are views here which take a one-sided perspective on a horrific conflict,” she told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“One party is demonized and they take a clear stance and are trying to affect public opinion. But that's not something taxpayer money should be used for. Sida's mission is to ensure that all material is informative and knowledgeable when it comes to foreign aid, but in some cases that hasn't worked.”

The chair of Forum Syd, Green Party MP Bodil Ceballos, shot back at Carlsson, accusing her of ministerial meddling in what she argued was an attempt to muzzle the views of non-government organizations.

“It can't be only the government's or the foreign ministry's view of foreign aid work that should be conveyed; even non-government organizations need to have a voice,” she told the paper, adding that she thinks the government has gone too far in its attempts to control Sida.

However, she believes it should be made clear that Sida and Forum Syd, while funding the report, aren't responsible for its contents.

A spokesperon for Sida admitted that the report could have been a bit more balanced.

The agency has promised to engage in a dialogue with Forum Syd about the issue, but has no plans to request that PGS return the money it received to produce the report.

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