European Funding for Palestinian NGOs as Political Subcontracting


For two decades, the European Union and individual states of Western Europe have been major funders of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), under banners of economic development, peace, and human rights. European governments together provide approximately €35 million annually to a small and largely unchanging group of selected organizations. The recipients are substantial political and economic actors, and are among the leaders of intense soft power conflict, voicing repeated allegations of fundamental Israeli wrong-doing and encouraging anti-Israel campaigns through boycotts and lawfare. This paper argues that in contrast to the formal justifications of support for independent civil society organizations, the relationship is best explained through a unique subcontracting model. The EU and West European governments provide funding and access (particularly to media and international institutions such as the UN and ICC), in return for political services from the carefully selected Palestinian NGOs. This is evidenced by a detailed examination of repeated and overlapping grants and contracts from numerous European funding frameworks to the same group of recipients, including some linked to the PFLP terror organization.

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