No funding for NGOs that have ties with terror
The Danish Foreign Ministry announced December 22 that Copenhagen will cut funding to Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that promote boycotting Israel or have ties with extremist organizations in the West Bank. The move came after Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan informed the Danish government about West Bank organizations that have received aid money and maintain ties with terror groups.
“It is important that there is confidence that Danish assistance is being utilized for the right purposes,” said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen following an internal investigation. He added that many organizations currently receiving Danish support would “no longer do so.”
In response, Omar Abdullah, the head of the UN Department at the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asserted that conditional aid money is not acceptable. “The aid money goes to civil society organizations,” he contended to The Media line, “the international community shouldn’t back Israeli claims against Palestinian civil organizations. The international community shouldn’t forget that Palestine is under occupation.”
According to Abdullah, Israel targets Palestinian civil organizations because of the role they play in revealing the crimes of the Israeli military presence in the West Bank. Abdullah claimed that Israel is trying to distort the image of the Palestinians on the international stage.
Erdan, on the other hand, welcomed the Danish decision, saying that “Palestinian NGOs which have ties to internationally-designated terrorist organizations and which promote boycotts against Israel should not receive European governmental funding. I call on all other European governments to exercise the same moral responsibility and take similar steps.”
The Palestinian economy is heavily dependent on international aid. Early in 2013, there was a drop in international assistance to the PA for the first time in a decade, causing the GDP in the West Bank to shrink dramatically.
An economic analyst, who spoke to The Media line on condition of anonymity, explained that the PA has become a society dependent on aid money. “Any massive cuts in aid money to the PA will impact on the government’s ability to pay salaries. This would put a lot of pressure on the economy since the government employs 22 percent of the population.”
The analyst stressed that donors should have a strategic fallback plan on how to cut off aid money, otherwise it would harm the Palestinian economy enormously.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that will cut nearly half of American aid to the PA unless it stops paying monthly stipends to the families of dead, injured or imprisoned Palestinian “freedom fighters” (deemed terrorists by the Israeli authorities). The legislation stipulates that funds would still be disbursed for purely humanitarian initiatives, such as water projects and securing vaccinations for children.
In May, The United Nations decided to withdraw support for a Palestinian women’s center in the northern West Bank city of Nablus named after a Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in an attack on the Tel Aviv-Haifa coastal road in 1978. Mughrabi was one of nine Palestinians who hijacked a bus and killed 38 Israelis and wounded 72. “The UN disassociated itself from the center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said, “we will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future.”
The UN move came days after Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Søreide condemned the PA for naming the center after Mughrabi. She demanded that her country’s name be removed from the building and that funds it had donated for its construction be returned.
Thuraya Hussein, the head of the Palestinian Women’s Affairs Team explained to The Media Line that “we built the center, but the people of the village decided on the name, not us. We respect their right to choose their center’s name.”
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Media Line that the government is in favor of cutting aid money that goes to “terror, violence and incitement.” Nahshon stressed that using such funds in this manner is contrary to the PA’s obligations under signed treaties. “Aid money is invested in salaries to terrorists and incitement to violence and that doesn’t contribute to achieving peace,” he asserted.
The PA claims that over the past three years, these controversial funds have been paid through the Palestine Liberation Organization—not from the PA’s own budget—and are thus are not drawn from foreign donor governments’ grants.