Jerusalem – Last week, Attorney Lee Bender, head of the Beth Hillel Wynnewood-based Israel Advocacy Committee, received documentation from Karmel Israel-Nytt, a Norwegian newspaper published in Oslo, Norway with editorial offices in Jerusalem, that the Norwegian government has allocated 1.3 million Kroner, something over $200,000, to “Peace Now,” a political organization which conducts surveillance of Israeli Jewish communities in Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria, to determine the extent of their growth and expansion.Norway stands out in its hostility to Israel, as one of the few Western nations to give full recognition and aid to the Hamas regime in Gaza, at a time when the U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia, the entities that form the quartet in the Middle East peace process, have predicated any recognition or negotiation with Hamas that it must first recognize Israel and cease its terror activity.

Peace Now, registered as a legal entity in the U.S. (and not in Israel, even though its projects are carried out in Israel) has received annual grants from the Norwegian government over the past eight years, along with governmental allocations from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Finland and Holland.

On Monday, Mr. Bender dispatched a letter to the Counterespionage Section/Registration Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice to ask why the U.S. government does not demand that Peace Now register as a foreign agent, a procedure required of a political lobby which receives grants from foreign governments.

The fact that Peace Now, which has operated a lobby in Washington, DC, since 1992, has never registered as a foreign agent means that it may be liable to prosecution under federal law.

Mr. Bender’s letter received wide publicity on Israeli Internet sites.

On Monday, a Peace Now spokesperson appeared on an Israel radio network and denied any connection to funds received from Norway.

However, following a Tuesday morning seminar at the Israeli Knesset Parliament session at which foreign government funding of Israel-based political groups was documented and discussed, the Peace Now spokesperson appeared on the Israeli TV on Tuesday night and said that Peace Now was proud to receive funds from foreign governments, including Norway. The Peace Now spokesperson said on Israeli TV that Peace Now had received more than 1.1 million dollars from foreign governments.

The U.S. Department of Justice has not yet responded to Mr. Bender’s demand that the federal government require Peace Now to register as a foreign agent of a foreign government.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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