Over the course of 2018 and 2019, the US Administration cut most USAID and State Department funding to Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as to the UN Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
NGO Monitor analyses revealed previous instances of US funding to Palestinian organizations that promote BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions), delegitimize Israel, engage with terror-affiliated individuals, and glorify violence.
The majority of US funds were not distributed to organizations that engaged in these activities or that employed such rhetoric.
- The United States funds non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through United States Agency for International Development(USAID), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the State Department and United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
- In November 2019, the Trump Administration announced cuts to USAID and State Department funding for Palestinian projects, with plans to close West Bank and Gaza operations by the end of 2019. In April 2019, USAID announced it would lay off 85% of its West Bank and Gaza staff. Both USAID and the US State Department continue to fund Israeli projects.
- In August 2018, the State Department announced that the Trump Administration was cutting $200 million in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza.
- An August 31, 2018 press statement by State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert declared that the US would no longer fund UNRWA, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation,” stating, “Beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years.”
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Created in 1961 and based in Washington DC, USAID is “the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.”
- In February 2019, USAID halted all funding to the West Bank and Gaza at the request of the Palestinian Authority. The request was linked to the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which allows US citizens to sue foreign aid recipients in US courts for “complicity in acts of war.” According to former White House Middle East Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, “This aid was cut (not just suspended) at the PA’s request because they didn’t want to be subject to US courts which would require them to pay US citizens killed by Palestinian terrorists when the PA was found guilty.”
- USAID continues to fund Israeli projects with a focus on “Conflict Management and Mitigation” (CMM) grants, which “support Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, working on issues of common concern.”
- While the majority of past USAID grantees appear to be non-political, some support anti-Israel, pro-BDS campaigns. These grantees include: Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), Women Media and Development (TAM), and Friends United Meeting (FUM). Additionally, USAID also funds the Parents Circle Family Forum, seen as controversial in Israel due to its political agenda. (See table below for further funding information.)
Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF):
- In 2017-2019, PCFF was granted $1.2 million for “cultivating a culture of nonviolence.”
- PCFF claims to advocate for “reconciliation,” “dialogue,” and “knowledge of the other.” It is widely criticized in Israel, in particular by groups of bereaved families, for exploiting the grief of families and the language of peace to promote a highly divisive, contentious, and narrow personal agendas.
- In 2015-2017, PCDCR was granted $600,000 to “improve protection of the rights of children in the West Bank.”
- On May 18, 2018, PCDCR sponsored a workshop at the Dar al Huda kindergarten, “Training of Teachers on Positive Discipline in Everyday Teaching.”
- On May 26, 2018, the Dar al Huda kindergarten in Gaza held a graduation ceremony that included the mock killing and kidnapping of Israelis by children dressed as combatants.1 The simulation included sophisticated equipment such as drones, body cameras, military fatigues, body armor, and sniper camouflage. Children wore headbands representing Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and others.
Friends United Meeting (FUM):
- In 2015-2019, FUM received $700,000 for “Foreign Assistance to American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA).”2
- FUM operates the Ramallah Friends School (RFS) in the West Bank, which runs the Go Palestine children’s summer camp.
- In June 2016, campers visited the “monument erected for the Martyrs of Birzeit,” which memorializes Birzeit University students killed while engaging in violence against Israel.
- FUM serves on the steering committee for Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an organization that supports BDS.
Women Media and Development (TAM):
- In 2017-2019, Women Media and Development was awarded $500,000.
- In 2016, TAM signed the “Palestinian Women’s Call for Worldwide Women’s Endorsement of BDS,” accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing.”
USAID beneficiaries involved in anti-Israel activity:
|Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR)||$600,000||2015-2017|
|Women Media and Development (TAM)||$500,000||2017-2019|
|Friends United Meeting (FUM)||$800,000||2017-2021|
|Parents Circle Family Forum||$1,200,000||2017-2019|
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
- According to its website, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) provides more than 1,600 grants “to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.”
- According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is funded “largely by the U.S. Congress” and is “subject to multiple layers of oversight by Congress, the Department of State, and independent financial audit.”
- In 2019, NED funded political advocacy NGOs that have ties to US-designated terror organizations, have invited members of US-designated terror organizations to participate in their public events, and have promoted BDS campaigns targeting Israel. Such groups include: Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (see above), Palestinian Vision, General Union of Cultural Centers (GUCC), and Civitas Institute. (See table below for further funding information.)
- NED granted $126,000 from 2016-2019 to Al-Dameer for “promoting rights-focused leadership in Gaza.”
- Several Al-Dameer employees and board members have apparent ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. (See NGO Monitor’s report “Al-Dameer’s Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”)
- Younis Aljaro, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Al-Dameer, was a leader in the PFLP.
PalThink for Strategic Studies
- In 2017-2019, NED granted $65,000 to PalThink for Strategic Studies to “strengthen democratic values and understanding within youth leadership in the Gaza Strip.”
- PalThink has hosted several events and meetings featuring high-ranking Hamas and PFLP officials, including Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, former chairman of the Hamas political bureau Khaled Meshaal, and PFLP central committee member Kayed al-Ghoul.
- In 2016-2019, NED granted Filastiniyat $147,300 to “strengthen the role of female journalists in Palestinian media and public life.”
- Filastiniyat was a signatory to an August 29, 2019 open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, calling to ”Release of the United Nations Database of Businesses Engaged in Activities Related to Israeli Settlements.” This UN blacklist of Israeli and international businesses, published on February 12, 2020, was ordered by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and is meant to bolster BDS campaigns, singling out Israel.
- In March 2016, Filastiniyat signed a “Palestinian Women’s Call for Worldwide Women’s Endorsement of BDS.”
- In 2016-2019, NED granted $183,700 to PCDCR (see above section on USAID funding for more information on PCDCR activity).
General Union of Cultural Centers (GUCC):
- In 2016-2019, NED granted $133,000 to GUCC to “promote the role of youth in civic and public life as part of Palestinian reform efforts.”
- On May 9, 2019, GUCC signed a call for a “global boycott of the Eurovision song contest held in Apartheid Israel on 18th May.”
- GUCC was a signatory to an August 16, 2018 open letter by “Palestinian Cultural Organizations” that accused Israel of “acts of genocide in Gaza” and called for “a wide campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in response to its well documented, premeditated war crimes in Gaza.”
- In 2010, GUCC sponsored an exhibition that included works commemorating “the occasion of first [sic] anniversary of the war [sic] the Nazi Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip” (emphasis added).
- In 2016-2019, NED granted Civitas $148,900 to “engage youth in Gaza in civic action, oversight, and interaction with national representatives on accountability and anti-corruption measures.”
- On May 9, 2019, Civitas signed a call for a “global boycott of the Eurovision song contest held in Apartheid Israel on 18th May.”
- Civitas was signatory to an August 16, 2018 letter by “Palestinian Cultural Organizations” that accused Israel of “acts of genocide in Gaza” and called for “a wide campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in response to its well documented, premeditated war crimes in Gaza.”
NED Funding to Palestinian NGOs
|Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR)||$42,000||2019|
|Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights||$30,000||2019|
|The General Union of Cultural Centers-Gaza (GUCC)||$38,000||2019|
|PalThink for Strategic Studies||$30,000||2019|
|The Human Rights and Democracy Media Center (SHAMS)||$32,000||2018|
US State Department
- From 2017- February 2020, the State Department distributed 144 grants to Israeli organizations.
- The State Department has awarded grants to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that support BDS against Israel. Statements from certain grantees have also propagated antisemitism, demonization of Israel, and the merits of terrorism as “resistance.” Past grantees include East Jerusalem YMCA, Women Against Violence , and Ma’an Network.
- Awarded $252,125 in 2019 for “Making VAWG [violence against women and girls] prevention a local resource: a collaborative program with Arab local councils to improve policing and violence protection services.
- In February 2016, Naila Awad, the CEO of WAV, was fired from the Help Center for Victims of Sexual Assault after alleging that “there are many studies that prove that IDF soldiers are sexually abusing and raping Palestinian women in the West Bank.”
United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
- According to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)- founded and funded by Congress- it is “dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical, and essential for U.S. and global security.”
- With regards to Israel, USIP “works to strengthen diplomatic peacemaking efforts; enhance community security for Israelis and Palestinians; empower Palestinian and Israeli civil society actors to build trust within and between their societies and build institutional capabilities that prepare the ground for a just, peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict.”
- USIP has awarded grants to Israeli NGO Ir Amim.
- Ir Amim
- Ir Amim was awarded $75,000 in 2018 for “engaging Young Ultra-Orthodox Leaders for Peace.”
- Although it has been described as “work[ing] toward coexistence in Jerusalem,” an Ir Amim official was quoted as saying that the group was “seeking to advance a political agenda, and was not an organization geared to promote coexistence.”
- Ir Amim frequently accuses Israel of attempting to “Judaize” Jerusalem and promotes the Palestinian narrative of the city, including claims that “government powers are being handed over to the settler organizations.” The organization also cites the importance of archeological digs as a “tool in the fight for control” over Jerusalem.
- An Ir Amim blog entry in the Huffington Post (April 27, 2010) appeals to the United States government to: “Threaten [Israel] with severing diplomatic ties. Threaten us with cutting back on, or even cutting off, the annual support package. Bludgeon us over the head and force us to wise up.”