Dear Minister Wilmès,
Firstly, we wish you a speedy and full recovery from COVID-19.
We are writing regarding evidence that Belgian funds may have been abused due to partnerships between several Belgian non-governmental organization (NGO) grantees and Palestinian NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an EU-designated terrorist organization. We previously alerted your predecessor Philippe Goffin and Deputy DG of Cooperation Guy Rayée to this information (July 11, 2020 and August 3, 2020).
In 2014-2021, the Directorate-General of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) has been providing Belgian NGOs with at least €8.9 million earmarked for projects involving Palestinian NGOs linked to the PFLP terror group or NGOs that have employed PFLP members.
Most recently, Bisan Center for Research & Development (Bisan), a Palestinian NGO that partners with Belgium-funded Viva Salud,1 re-hired as executive director Ubai Aboudi. Ubai Aboudi, a PFLP member, was just released from an Israeli prison in which he served a one-year sentence. He was convicted for being “responsible for recruiting additional activists to the organization [PFLP] from young people and students, as well as strengthening the [terror] organization’s infrastructure in the area.”
Ubai Aboudi was one of many PFLP members to be detained following an August 2019 PFLP terrorist attack in which an Israeli teenager was murdered, and her father and brother were injured.
This decision by Bisan does not seem to be an isolated event. In July 2020, Bisan refused to comply with anti-terror requirements for EU funding. A representative of Bisan stated on Al Jazeera that the group opposes conditional funding and the new EU anti-terror clause: “Palestinian civil society is donor-dependent. Bisan used to get its funding primarily from EU governments, but we withdrew our project concept notes for this year after they [European Union] included the ATC [anti-terror clause] in their contracts.”
We urge you to investigate the matter and freeze any funds that may be going to Bisan and to other terror-linked NGOs (including Health Work Committees, Union of Health Workers Committees, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Defense for Children International – Palestine). We also strongly encourage the introduction of more robust vetting mechanisms to ensure that taxpayer funds are not abused by terror elements.
We are of course available to address any additional questions you may have.
Prof Gerald M. Steinberg Olga Deutsch
President Vice President
Cc: Mr Guy Rayée, Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
- In 2017-2021, Viva Salud received €955,976 from the DGD for programs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.