Overview of Australian funding in the West Bank and Gaza
- Australian international aid, managed through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), is intended “to promote Australia’s national interests through contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction.”1
- Some Australian aid funding goes to political advocacy NGOs that are involved in BDS and for activities that are contrary to the peace process, as detailed below.
- In addition to UNRWA and UNICEF, Australia funds the Australia Middle East NGO Partnership Agreement (AMENCA2),2 which channels aid to NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza.
- The latest available data shows that in 2011-12, Australia provided AU$6 million to AMENCA2. As of February 2012, expenditures to date were over AU$16 million.
- AMENCA2 is designed “to improve living standards of selected vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza through supporting sustainable livelihoods in the agriculture and economic sectors.”
- AMENCA channels funds to APHEDA, ActionAid Australia,3 Care Australia, and World Vision Australia – which in turn fund local NGOs. In contrast to Australian policy and the stated goals of AMENCA, some of the funded Palestinian NGOs are active in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns and other forms of anti-Israel demonization (see details of activities below):
- World Vision Australia works in partnership with Union of Agricultural Works Committee (UAWC),4 an organization that explicitly endorses BDS campaigns;
- APHEDA works in partnership with Ma’an Development Center;
- Care Australia works in partnership with Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) and the Economic and Social Development Centre (ESDC).
- APHEDA, the overseas aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, engages in activities that fuel the conflict and do not promote humanitarian objectives.
- BDS: Campaigned for an arms embargo against Israel. Also partners with organizations promoting BDS and “lawfare” tactics. APHEDA’s Middle East tours have served as the basis for BDS campaigns in Australia.
- Demonizing language: Uses “apartheid” language, endorses the so-called “right of return,” accuses Israel of “collective punishment” against Gaza and associated “war crimes.” Accuses Israel of “state-terrorism against Palestinians.”
- APHEDA was criticized by Australian Senator Eric Abetz for its work with the pro-BDS Palestinian NGO Ma’an Development Center.
- Ma’an Development Center, funded by Australia via APHEDA
- Published “Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions: Lessons learned in effective solidarity” (2009), a guide to grassroots and international BDS campaigns.
- Instances of delegitimization of Israel include a “Case Study” about a farmer from Qalqiliya, which refers to “consecutive occupation governments since 1948.”
- APHEDA acknowledges on its website that “MA’AN agrees in principle with the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the occupation.”
- Care Australia partners with Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) and the Economic and Social Development Centre (ESDC).
- Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) is among the leaders of the political warfare against Israel, seeking to further boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), false accusations of Israeli “apartheid” and “racism,” and support for a Palestinian “right of return” that is inconsistent with two-state solution.
- Employs demonizing rhetoric of “ethnic cleansing,” “transfer,” “land grab,” “colonialization activities,” and “Judaize Jerusalem” in publications, and claims Israel is guilty of “excessive and disproportionate violations of every existing humanitarian code.” Accuses Israelis of “storming religious Christian and Islamic sites” and “attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque.”
- Member of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Coalition (PGAAWC), which focuses on “stopping and dismantling the Apartheid Wall and resisting Israeli occupation and colonization.”
- A December 2008 publication labels Jerusalem’s mayor a “racist” who supports “ethnic cleansing.”
- Supports BDS campaigns.
- Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in 2014: “Under the Abbott Government aid spending will be tied to measurable outcomes. Rigorous benchmarks will be introduced to ensure integrity in the Australian aid program and to give Australian taxpayers greater confidence in its effectiveness.”
- In light of this statement, NGO Monitor recommends that the Australian government set more rigorous benchmarks in its indirect funding of NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Australia must more closely investigate operations and partnerships of intermediary organizations to ensure that taxpayer funds are used to further Australian national interests.
- As AMENCA2 closes its cycle in June, NGO Monitor encourages Australia to end funding to organizations that demonize Israel and encourage BDS.
- In 2013, the former agency responsible for managing overseas aid, AusAid, was integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
- The AMENCA2 program is scheduled to end in June 2014. An expected 2013 review of the program was not available online.
- ActionAid Australia works in partnership with Asala Palestinian Business Women’s Association and Institute for Community Partnerships (ICP).
- The organization Shurat HaDin has alleged that the UAWC is the agricultural organization of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). It claims that the UAWC was “created by the PFLP and they operate under the direct patronage and in close cooperation with the PFLP.”