German lawmaker investigates aid for Palestinian terrorism

Merkel administration says it ensures money not misused.

August 31, 2016 20:12
2 minute read.
Illustrative: Palestinian stone-thrower

A Palestinian stone-thrower looks on as he stands in front of a fire during clashes with IDF troops in the West Bank village of Duma. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BERLIN – The head of the German–Israel Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, Volker Beck, launched an inquiry into the misuse of German aid for Palestinian terrorism.

The inquiry appears to be the first legislative investigation in Germany into the possible misappropriation of Palestinian humanitarian aid.

According to letters obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Beck, a Green Party deputy, wrote in July to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that “the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in Washington, DC, recently presented to Congress and subsequently published the interesting report ‘Palestinian Authority Support For Imprisoned, Released, And Wounded Terrorists And Families Of Martyrs.’”

Beck asked, “What information is available to the Federal government about payments by the PA, possibly through intermediaries, to Palestinian prisoners involved in terrorist activities against Israel or its citizens?”

He continued, “What information is available to the Federal government about payments by the PA, possibly through intermediaries, to the families of dead Palestinian terrorists (so-called martyrs) who were involved in terrorist activities against Israel or its citizens?”

He then asked, “How does the Federal government intend to rule out that the PA is directly or indirectly financing terrorists or the relatives of terrorists with money from the Federal Republic of Germany or the EU?”

The Federal government responded earlier last month, stating, “In 2015, bilateral support by the Federal government for the people of Palestine and in UNRWA camps outside of Palestine (in other words in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) totaled around €162 million. These funds financed specific projects, primarily in the areas of development cooperation, culture and education, along with humanitarian aid and civilian crisis prevention.

Payments were made directly to service providers, only for ear-marked projects, according to their progress and in return for services, such as construction work. The Federal government does not provide any budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority.”

The German government suspended funds to the US Christian charity World Vision in August because of allegations that its funds were funneled to Hamas and used for terrorist activities.

According to the Merkel administration, “The Palestinian Authority itself stopped payments to prisoners following the dissolution of the Ministry for Prisoners Affairs in 2014. The PLO Commission for Prisoners Affairs provides financial support to the families of Palestinians detained in Israel.

The Palestinian side justifies this by pointing out the need to prevent a descent into poverty by these families, whom the Palestinians see as frequent victims of collective penalties such as demolition of housing and revoking of work permits. The extent of this support depends, among other things, on the length of the detainment. To the knowledge of the Federal government there is no distinction made according to the reasons for detainment.”

The government’s letter added “that German funds are not used for these payments, neither directly nor indirectly through the European Union,” adding that Berlin is “assured that this does not occur.
Independent thereof, the Palestinian Authority is called upon to take all necessary steps against the incitement of violence and to increase its efforts in the fight against terrorism. These are also among the recommendations of the latest report by the Middle East Quartet, which was welcomed by the Federal government.”

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