Republicans Want To End Taxpayer Funding for Activist Group Behind Netanyahu Protests

Calls to halt funding come on heels of Free Beacon report exposing funding for far-left Israeli orgs

U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)
April 10, 2023

A group of Republican senators is calling on the Biden administration to "immediately cease funding" for a far-left Israeli nonprofit that is working to unseat Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative government coalition.

Four Republican senators—Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.)—blasted the State Department for funneling taxpayer funds to the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), a left-wing Israeli nonprofit that is leading nationwide protests against Netanyahu's government over plans to reform the country's historically powerful Supreme Court. Those plans that are on standby as a result of mass protests led by MQG.

The left-wing group has received more than $38,000 in funding from the United States since 2020, the Washington Free Beacon reported in March. The funding has raised questions about how a partisan foreign organization was able to obtain American dollars. The State Department typically avoids bolstering partisan groups to avoid the appearance of political meddling.

The funding for MQG comes amid chilly relations between the Biden administration and Netanyahu. President Joe Biden waited more than a week to call Netanyahu after the Israeli prime minister's 2022 election victory and has said in recent days that he will not be inviting Netanyahu to the White House any time soon due to unrest over the Supreme Court reform effort. Biden administration officials have been critical of Netanyahu's battle with the Israeli Supreme Court, with some accusing the Israeli leader of eroding democracy in the Jewish state.

The Republican senators say the funding for MQG indicates that the Biden administration supports the opposition group's efforts to oust Netanyahu and destroy his governing coalition.

"This pattern of the State Department funding partisan organizations in an allied democracy is unacceptable," the senators wrote. "It makes no difference which side of the political divide a given organization is aligned with. If the government of a U.S. partner or ally was funding partisan organizations in the United States, we would rightly find such foreign interference in our democracy unacceptable."

The lawmakers also note that the State Department has been caught in the past channeling taxpayer funds to partisan Israeli groups that oppose Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time that State Department funds have been employed by left-wing partisan organizations in Israel," they wrote.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations discovered in 2016 that the State Department sent more than $300,000 to the OneVoice movement, another far-left Israeli groups that ultimately diverted "these resources for the political purpose of launching a grassroots campaign in Israel to elect 'anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]' in the 2015 Israeli parliamentary election."

Netanyahu, in remarks late last month, pushed back against the Biden administration's criticism of his government, saying, "Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends."