The European Parliament called on the European Commission to make sure funds in future budgets do not go to any parties linked to terrorism, in its annual document reviewing past budgets set to be approved on Thursday.
The European Parliament “insists that the Commission should thoroughly verify the use of Union funds by third entities to ensure that no funds are allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalization.”
In addition, the discharge report calls on the European Commission to ensure that “no Union funds are used to finance textbooks and educational material which incite religious radicalization, intolerance, ethnic violence and martyrdom among children.”
It expresses concern about “problematic material in Palestinian school textbooks” and adds that the EU has not been effective in trying to curb hate speech in those books. The MEPs insist that teachers’ salaries funded by the EU go only to teaching curricula of “peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence.”
The European Commission must consider the content of the report when drafting its next budget. The report is part of a procedure in which the European Parliament holds the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, accountable for implementing the EU budget. It ends with the formal closure of the Council’s accounts for a given year.
This year, the report comes the week after a letter to the Palestinian NGO Network from EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff came to light, in which he said Palestinians affiliated with terrorist groups may take part in EU-funded activities. The letter said that since there are only terrorist organizations on the EU’s “restrictive measures” blacklist, and not individuals, people with ties to those organizations would not be banned. The letter came after months of protests by Palestinian NGOs demanding that the EU erase a stipulation that aid only go to organizations with no ties to EU-designated terrorist groups.
These articles in the discharge report were drafted months before von Burgsdorff’s letter was made public, due to ongoing frustration in the European Parliament about EU funding of NGOs.
Reports by the Strategic Affairs Ministry and the research institute NGO Monitor have shown that senior members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated a terrorist group by the EU, US, Canada and Israel, also lead organizations funded by the EU.
There are also NGOs encouraging boycotts of Israel that receive EU funding, which could fall under the MEP’s definition of “political radicalization.”
Last week, MEPs leading the Transatlantic Friends of Israel group, backed by the AJC, sent a letter to the EU’s foreign envoy Josep Borrell expressing alarm that NGOs affiliated with terrorist groups are still eligible for funding.
“It cannot be the task of the EU’s representative in Ramallah to reassure Palestinian NGOs that they can continue to be linked to EU-listed terror organizations and hire their members and supporters as long as those individuals themselves don’t appear on the EU list,” the letter reads.
MEPs from a number of parties and countries, led by Lukas Mandl of Austria, called in the letter for Borrell to launch an investigation and “ensure that EU taxpayer money is spent in line with EU values to advance EU policies.” They also said the EU should conduct a general review of standards for funding to Palestinian groups, “some of whom are employing terrorists... propagate antisemitism and promote the BDS movement against the Jewish state,” including the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying terrorists and their families each month.
David Siegel of ELNET, an organization dedicated to strengthening Europe-Israel relations, called the report an “excellent result,” which lays the groundwork for coexistence.
“This strong and unambiguous wording enables the Parliament to hold the European Commission accountable for their aid to the PA when it comes to Palestinian children’s textbooks, and preventing EU funding from ending up in the hands of terrorists,” Siegel stated.
Marcus Sheff of IMPACT-se, which monitors textbooks, said the European Parliament “is clearly exasperated by the continued payment of massive grants to the Palestinian educational sector, which is then promptly turned into one of the most hate-filled, violent and extreme curricula worldwide.”