HRW's Saudi Arabia fundraising mission is like asking Taliban for donation: Israel

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Jerusalem, July 15 (ANI): Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office has criticized the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for sending a fundraising delegation to Saudi Arabia, and likened the situation to a women's rights group asking the Taliban for donations.

"A human rights organization raising money in Saudi Arabia is like a women's rights group asking the Taliban for a donation. For an organization that claims to offer moral direction, it appears that Human Rights Watch has seriously lost its moral compass," The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev, as saying.

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, responded by saying that there was a need to distinguish between a government and its people, and to conflate the two was "misguided at best."

"Certainly not everyone is tainted by the misconduct of their government. There are private individuals in Saudi Arabia who are not part of the ruling government," she said. Comments from Netanyahu's office on HRW come in the wake of reports that a delegation from HRW recently visited Saudi Arabia to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting the group's activities against Israel.

Two weeks ago, Israel was ripped for alleged misconduct during Operation Cast Lead in reports issued by HRW and Amnesty International.

Israel has decided to take a much more aggressive stance toward future reports issued by these organizations, according to sources.

"We will make a greater effort in the future to go through their reports with a fine-tooth comb, expose the inconsistencies and their problematic use of questionable data," one senior official said.

"We discovered during the Gaza operation and the Second Lebanon War that these organizations come in with a very strong agenda, and because they claim to have some kind of halo around them, they receive a status that they don't deserve," he said.

Recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had said that his ministry was currently involved in a reform that would place a much greater emphasis on dealing with NGOs. (ANI)

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