EU pulls funding for Palestinian NGO refusing to disavow terror
"BADIL cannot abide by the General Conditions as they stand, and we are therefore obliged to consider your application no longer valid."
By DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS
The European Union has pulled funding from a Palestinian NGO after the organization refused to sign an anti-terror clause in the funding contract.On Friday, the EU wrote to the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights to inform them that €1.7 million in funding for a three-year project, titled 'Mobilizing for Justice in Jerusalem' had been cancelled. According to a statement on BADIL's website, the project aimed at "enhancing the resilience of Palestinians and highlighting Israeli human rights violations and international crimes in Jerusalem.""Based on your reply we conclude that BADIL cannot abide by the General Conditions as they stand, and we are therefore obliged to consider your application no longer valid," the letter read, according to BADIL.BADIL have said that the project's dismissal followed a series of correspondence between the organization and EU officials over the anti-terror clause. ANNEX II of the general conditions attached to EU grants includes a stipulation, Article 1, 1.5bis, which states: "Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures."Several Palestinian terror groups appear on these lists, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FPLP), and Hamas, among others. Additionally, in December 2019, several NGO officials were arrested in connection with the murder of 17 year old Israeli Rina Schnerb.130 Palestinian NGOs have refused to sign the clause, however, insisting that the stipulation amounts to illegal interference in Palestine's political process by outside bodies, as the terror groups in question are "political parties." In late December 2019 they launched a “Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding,” of which BADIL was a part.In their statement, BADIL said: "BADIL’s objection to Article 1.5bis is based on the fact that signing the contract criminalizes the Palestinian struggle against oppression and requires the recipient organization to perform “screening” procedures which amounts to policing its own people. The inclusion of this article to contracts with Palestinian organizations contradicts the national role of Palestinian civil society institutions in the struggle for freedom from Israeli colonialism and apartheid."They said that the clause amounted to the "acceptance and adoption of the allegations of the Zionist lobby and Israeli campaigns," with the aim of "criminalizing the Palestinians struggle."The move comes shortly after the EU's enlargement commissioner Olivér Várhelyi vowed to order an investigation into whether EU funds were being used to finance Palestinian terror. Speaking at a meeting in May, Várhelyi said: “There is no terror financing from EU funds, as long as there are EU funds that will not be happening, this will not be tolerated, and if it happens, it will be rectified. And I will see it to it myself that it is done and delivered.”That commitment came shortly after research institute NGO Monitor alerted the President of the European Commission that Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorf, head of the EU Representative Office to the West Bank and Gaza, had reassured Palestinian organisations that they would not lose funding under the clause. Research by NGO Monitor found that over the last nine years the EU has handed €25 million to Palestinian groups which have refused to disavow terror.Vice President of NGO Monitor, Olga Deutsch told The Jerusalem Post: "We applaud the EU for standing strong in the face of pressure and enforcing its anti-terror clause. We are glad to see that in cancelling these millions of euros, last month’s EU Commission review on funding of NGOs like BADIL is already bearing fruit, and we look forward to the full review findings. There is no question that radical groups like BADIL, who not only have a history of promoting antisemitism and rejection of Israel, but who will not commit to not working with terror, have no business receiving funding from the EU or any other government. We hope that the EU will further examine the €25 million that we found it gave such groups since 2011."Meanwhile, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs has announced that it has been in "continued dialog with the EU" on the matter for the past year, contacting representatives to call for an immediate end to the awarding of grants to Palestinian NGOs maintaining terror ties.