Palestinian NGOs are hitting back at international donors, particularly the EU, for their “anti-terror” funding requirements, which the groups argue unfairly target Palestinian civil society groups.
The Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding was launched in recent weeks by a number of Palestinian NGOs who are refusing to sign an EU grant request stipulating that recipients must refuse to transfer any E.U. assistance given to “terrorist groups or entities.”
The EU, along with several other international bodies and institutions, designate a number of Palestinian political factions, such as Hamas and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as terrorist organizations.
The clauses demand that “contractors, subcontractors, those participating in their training workshops, and those obtaining financial support from them, exclude groups that appear on the EU terrorist organizations list, such as Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
Such “anti-terrorism” clauses have been more frequently used in recent years by international entities who provide financial aids to Palestinians due to increased pressure from the Israeli government, which accuses Palestinian rights groups of “promoting anti-Semitism, BDS and lawfare against Israel” under the “false pretenses of human rights.”
Over the past two years, the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs released a number of reports alleging ties between Palestinian civil society organizations and “terrorist groups,” and even claimed to have waged a “stealthy campaign” that resulted in the shuttering of some 30 bank accounts affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
At the time, several of the groups that were allegedly targeted said the accounts that were supposedly targeted, never existed in the first place.
The recent campaign was launched after a meeting between representatives of the EU and the Palestinian NGO (PNGO) network, during which the latter refused to sign a grant request with the new clause.
The groups argue that imposing conditional funding forces civil society groups to take a political stance against the actions of Palestinian political factions, who they say have a right to resist the Israeli occupation.
By signing such clauses, the groups say, they are in essence conceding to the designation of Palestinian resistance groups as terrorist organizations.
A petition signed by 134 Palestinian civil society groups across the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, stated: “We announce our categorical refusal of politically conditional funding, whatever its size, even if it leads to the collapse of our institutions and their failure to perform their vital work.”
The groups criticized the fact that the EU has targeted Palestinian NGOs “at a time when Israel’s colonial policies are intensifying, including confiscation, annexation, forced displacement, repression and abuse, institutionalization of racism, fragmentation and isolation, all of which constitute international crimes against our people.”
“Instead of our people receiving support from the European Union,” the group said, the latter has presented the groups with a number of prerequisites for obtaining funding.
The petition reaffirmed the rights of the Palestinian people “to resist colonialism and Israeli apartheid…until they obtain their inalienable rights to self-determination and return to their original homes.”
The group went on to call on all Palestinian civil society groups to reject the EU’s condition funding, and refuse to sign any agreements with the “anti-terrorism” clause in question.
They also called on the EU to “abolish this unjust condition.”