On December 16, 2016, the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) published changes to its funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The changes were explained as necessary to ensure that funding delivers the best value for money and maximum impact for the Palestinian population, and that funding is used solely for vital health and education services. The changes, inter alia, allow funding towards the salaries of vetted health and education public servants, while “salaries of Palestinian Authority public servants in Gaza who have not been able to work” will not be supported by the British government.
In order to receive continued funding from the UK, the PA will be required to show its “commitment to the UK Partnership Principles and progress against key reform indicators.” The UK Partnership Principles include commitments to: reduce poverty, respect “human rights and other international obligations,” “strengthening financial management and accountability, and reduce “the risk of funds being misused through weak administration or corruption,” and strengthen domestic accountability.
These developments can be attributed, in part, to ongoing NGO Monitor activities in the UK emphasizing the impact of British funding to NGOs in Israel and the PA. These efforts include a series of detailed reports, opinion pieces, and meetings in the House of Commons with members of various political parties. Additionally, on May 19, NGO Monitor and the Henry Jackson Society co-hosted a presentation in the British Parliament about European Governments and their financial support of BDS. Speakers included Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg, Baroness Ruth Deech, and Douglas Murray.
MPs cited NGO Monitor’s research on NGOs and funds allocated to the Palestinian Authority during a June House of Commons debate on external aid. They also noted that in addition to corruption within the PA, funding allocations to politicized NGOs that promote a narrative of Israeli violations openly contradict UK foreign policy goals.
Whether the reforms apply to NGO funding remains unclear, but would be necessary for consistency on terrorism financing, transparency, partnership principles, and value for money.
Examples of how UK-funded NGOs include:
- DFID provides nearly £6 million to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) (2012-2016), an NGO that Israel declared illegal due to alleged funneling of money to Hamas. In addition, the United Arab Emirates banned IRW due to its alleged status as a terror organization, and HSBC Banking group in the UK severed ties with IRW over terror financing fears.
- The Norwegian Refugee Council received over £20 million from DFID in the past five years. Much of this funding is earmarked for an “information, counseling, and legal assistance (ICLA)” project, used to finance thousands of lawsuits on the most contentious and controversial issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The project exploits the Israeli judicial system in order to manipulate Israeli policy, while bypassing available democratic and diplomatic frameworks.
- The British Government provides support of £2.8 million (2012-2016) to the “Tajaawob Program,” comprising of the NGOs Miftah, Oxfam GB, Aman, and Palestinian Vision (PalVision or “Ruya”). It is not clear how funding is distributed to each of the individual members.
- Tajaawob’s interactive map of the region does not include Israel and refers to the Negev as “South Palestine” and the Galilee region as “North Palestine.”
- Miftah utilizes anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric, including using the term “resistance fighters” to describe terror groups. The NGO also accuses Israel of perpetrating “massacres,” “cultural genocide,” “war crimes,” and “apartheid.”
- PalVision refers to Israel as “1948 lands” or “Palestine 1948” and to cities in Israel as “1948 occupied cities.” Palvision also endorses BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
- Information on projects funded by DFID is publically available in a projects database. However, local NGO recipients that receive British support via international organizations are not individually named and instead appear anonymously as “civil society organizations / NGOs (Supplier Name Withheld).”