September 20, 2023
The central political advocacy role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is facilitated by substantial financial support, primarily from donor governments. The following data base traces the trail of funding leading from foreign governments to Palestinian NGOs claiming to promote human rights. Numerous recipients are involved in the whitewashing of violence and terrorism, demonization and legal warfare (“lawfare”) targeting Israeli officials, BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, and promoting antisemitic propaganda. Some of these groups also have reported ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization as officially designated by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
As detailed in the analysis published by the INSS (Gerald M Steinberg, “European Funding for Palestinian NGOs as Political Subcontracting,“ Strategic Assessment 24:4), European governments, in particular, have been funding the same network of Palestinian political NGOs for many years. Although these governments claim to oppose the objectives promoted in the campaigns led by their NGO partners, the annual grants have continued.
This updated and expanded database contains the details of 1063 grants to 40 Palestinian NGOs since 2008 from 19 countries (when available), including the identities of donors (government or private), grant period, and project partners. The database utilizes two primary open data sources: NGO annual reports and websites, and information published by donor governments and the UN.
There are two unique challenges in researching funding to Palestinian NGOs, compared to Israeli (and international) grantees:
- Lack of NGO Transparency: Many Palestinian NGOs do not make annual financial statements available to the public. NGOs registered with the Palestinian Authority are covered by an “NGO Law,” instituted in 2000. According to Article 13 of the law, “No later than four months following the end of the fiscal year, an NGO must present to the relevant ministry… a financial report approved by an accountant and includes detailed income and expenditures of the organization, relative to the property listed in its name” (NGO Monitor translation). There is no reference to any requirement that these reports be made available to the general public, and these reports are not posted.
- Donor Government Transparency: The level of reporting and transparency differs by country. Many states do not publish details of grant amounts, project objectives and other specifics.
It is impossible to present an accurate aggregate annual sum due to multi-year grants, allocations received in different currencies, and subgrantees. According to a reasonable estimate, such NGOs have received hundreds of millions since 2008.
NGO Monitor research found that:
- The most transparent countries are Norway and Switzerland, as they provide details on the size of grants, the grantees, and projects.
- The least transparent country, in terms of access to grant details and information on grantees, is Germany. Germany does not maintain a publicly available project database, making it challenging for the general public to understand where money is transferred. 72 out of 85 grants from Germany are non-transparent, with only minimal information from secondary sources.
- In addition to grants from individual governments, a number of joint mechanisms have been created to support Palestinian and Israeli political NGOs. In particular, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat – a joint NGO funding mechanism of the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland – closed in 2017. According to Secretariat reports, in 2014-2017, more than $9.6 million was transferred to a small group of Palestinian NGOs, most of which are among the leaders of anti-Israel campaigns. Additionally, the NGO Development Center (NDC), a joint funding mechanism of Sweden, France, and the United Nations, has provided over $11 million since 2014. Such joint funding frameworks often lack due diligence and oversight mechanisms.
- According to donor reports, many grants to Palestinian NGOs are in the form of multi-year grants and many grants are distributed to NGOs for collaborative projects. This phenomenon, combined with the lack of transparency, makes it difficult to determine how much money each individual organization receives.