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Introduction

In 2011-2018 (latest available data),1 the EU authorized grants of at least €25 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with ties to EU-designated terrorist groups.

  • NGO Monitor has identified 23 grants, totaling €25 million in funds, provided to terror-tied NGOs, including the Union of Agricultural Committees (UAWC), Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Al-Dameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), Bisan Center, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Haq, and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO).
  • For example, one grant of €699,236 (2017-2019) went to five Palestinian organizations, four of which have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. In December 2019, the Israeli media reported that the Israel Security Agency arrested a 50-person terror network operating in the West Bank allegedly responsible for the bomb attack that murdered a teenager in August 2019. Among those arrested were three senior employees of NGO beneficiaries to this EU grant, including financial officers.

For years, NGO Monitor has documented how a lack of clear and comprehensive policies, as well as a lack of sufficient oversight, allows for EU funds to be distributed to projects that involve terror linked, hateful and/or antisemitic beneficiaries.

This problem has become more urgent over the past six months. In December 2019, during a meeting with EU officials, representatives from Palestinian NGO Network  (PNGO) – an umbrella organization of 142 Palestinian NGOs – “refused to sign an EU grant request which stipulates among its criteria that beneficiaries must refuse to transfer any EU aid given to terrorist groups or entities…claiming Palestinian terrorist groups are merely ‘political parties.’”

The new EU requirement, introduced into contracts with NGOs beginning in 2019, states that “Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures” (General conditions, Annex G.2, Annex II, Article 1.5 bis). In the Palestinian context, the list of EU restrictive measures includes Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

According to various reports, a number of European officials have responded sympathetically to PNGO’s complaints:

  • Then Acting EU Representative in Ramallah Tomas Niklasson in the abovementioned December 2019 meeting with PNGO.
  • Palestine Desk Officer of European External Action Service Paloma Portela and Francesca Pessina from the European Commission Department for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), in a January 22, 2020 meeting in Brussels with officials from Palestinian NGOs.
  • The head of the EU Representative Office to the West Bank and Gaza, sent a March 2020 “clarification letter regarding the EU-funded contracts” to PNGO, stressing that “it is understood that a natural person affiliated to, sympathizing with, or supporting any of the groups or entities mentioned in the EU restrictive lists is not excluded from benefiting from EU-funded activities, unless his/her exact name and surname (confirming his/her identity) corresponds to any of the natural persons on the EU restrictive lists” (emphasis added).

The implication is that, even if a Palestinian NGO applying for EU grants is an affiliate of EU-designated terrorist groups or employs individuals from these groups, the EU will still provide the organization with funds and legitimacy.

In May 2020, there was extensive media coverage of the March 2020 clarification letter, and Members of the European Parliament and civil society organizations expressed major concern. Then, during a May 19, 2020 meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stated that he had instructed the heads of EU delegations to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza to “look deep” in to the allegations that some EU funds go to terror-linked or -supporting NGOs, declaring that such funding “will not be tolerated.”

On June 1, 2020, EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret insisted in a media interview that the EU “does not support organizations linked to the Popular Front. If there is evidence of improper use of EU funds, we will investigate it.”

Summary of Grants

GrantAmountYearsNGO Beneficiaries of Concern
“Strengthening Community Resilience and Social Cohesion in East Jerusalem on Both Sides of the Separation Wall”€699,2362017-2019Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), and Bisan Center
“Prevention, mitigation, and rehabilitation for Palestinian children exposed to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”€981,2982017-2020DCI-P
“Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to association in the Gaza”€446,4822016-2019Al-Dameer and Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
“Empowering Palestinian Civil Society to Promote the Effective Reporting and Implementation on International Rights Instruments Palestine acceded to in 2014”€296,6002018-2021Al-Haq
“Torture is a humiliation of dignity”€261,9142018-2021PNGO
“Palestinian Civil Society Platforms: A Vehicle for Grassroots Civil Society Development and Policy Influence”€1.2 million2017PNGO
“Juthoor: Land, Water, and Human Resource Development in Vulnerable Areas of the West Bank”€3.6 millionJanuary 2015-April 2017*UAWC
“Moving herders from aid dependence to self-sustaining growth through livestock husbandry development and market expansion”€1.9 millionOctober 2013-October 2015*
“Making olive oil competitive through the introduction of local value chain approach in the oPt”€609,895January 2013-June 2015*
“Moving herders from aid dependence to self-sustaining growth through livestock husbandry development and market expansion”€3.5 millionOctober 2013- September 2015
“Making olive oil competitive through the introduction of local value chain approach in the oPt”€2.48 millionFebruary 2013- July 2015
“Food security governance of Bedouin pastoralist groups in the Mashreq,”80% of €1.87 million2013-2016
“Enhancement of food security in Taybeh and Ramoun through rural development and agricultural extension”80% of €2.9 million2011-2014
“Making wastewater an asset: increasing agricultural production by introducing irrigation from non-conventional water sources”80% of €3 million2011-2014
“Srengthening the Role of Palestinian Civil Society in Development”€399,6922014PNGO
“Strengthening human rights and access to information in the Gaza Strip”€411,8612014-2016PCHR
“Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district”€113,1122014HWC
“Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district”€105,6792014HWC
“Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to freedom of association in the Gaza Strip”€100,7072014Al-Dameer
“Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district”€356,3502014-2016HWC
“Economic Development and Promotion of the Tourism and Cultural Sectors in East Jerusalem”€950,0002012Bisan
“Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to freedom of association in the Gaza Strip”€281,2512012-2015Al-Dameer, PNGO
“Mobilising Media to Empower Citizens and Civil Society for Human Rights, Democratic Reform, and Intra-Palestinian Reconciliation”€288,2902011Al-Haq

*Dates provided by the EU in response to a FOI query (on file).

Details on Terror-Linked Beneficiaries

  1. Grant:Strengthening Community Resilience and Social Cohesion in East Jerusalem on Both Sides of the Separation Wall

Amount/Years: €699,236 / 2017-2019

NGOs of Concern Involved: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), Bisan Center, and Land Research Center (LRC)

  • Employees of two of the grantees, HWC and Bisan, were arrested in 2019 for being part of a PFLP terror cell:
    • Walid Hanatsheh (Abu Ras), HWC’s finance and administration manager. Hanatsheh is on trial for allegedly being the leader of PFLP “military” operations and commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the August 2019 bombing attack in which the 17-year-old was murdered. According to the indictment against him, Hanatsheh bankrolled the bombing. He is also listed as a PNGOboard member on behalf of HWC.
      • On June 9, 2015, the Israel defense minister announced that the Jerusalem branch of the Health Work Committee is an unlawful association, designated as a terrorist organization by the Israel High Court of Justice (HCJ 3923/15; emphasis added).
    • Ubai Aboudi, Bisan’s Executive Director: In June 2020, Aboudi was sentenced to 12-months in prison. . In an indictment of another PFLP leader, Aboudi is mentioned as a PFLP member who was told to recruit more members to the cell.
    • Iteraf Hajaj (Rimawi): Served as Bisan’s Executive Director in 2017 while the NGO was receiving funding from the EU. He was arrested on September, 23, 2019 by Israeli forces. A statement from the General Security Service (Shabak) refers to Rimawi as being responsible for PFLP clandestine operations.
  • Numerous UPWC staff members and board members have ties to PFLP. (For more information read NGO Monitor’s report “Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”)
  • See below for details regarding DCI-P.
  1. Grant: “Promoting improved respect, protection and fulfilment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health in the Gaza strip”

Amount/Years: €320,187/2018-2021

NGO Beneficiaries of Concern: PCHR

  1. Grant: Prevention, mitigation, and rehabilitation for Palestinian children exposed to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

Amount/Years: €981,298 / 2017-2020

NGOs of Concern Involved: DCI-P

  1. Grant:Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to association in the Gaza

Amount/Years: €446,482 / 2016-2019

NGOs of Concern Involved: Al-Dameer and Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

  1. Grant:Empowering Palestinian Civil Society to Promote the Effective Reporting and Implementation on International Rights Instruments Palestine acceded to in 2014

Amount/Years: €296,600 / 2018-2021

NGOs of Concern Involved: Al-Haq

  • Al-Haq’s General Director Shawan Jabarin has been associated with the PFLP. In 2007, the Israeli High Court referred to him as a “Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization.”
  1. Grant: Torture is a humiliation of dignity

Amount/Years: €261,914 / 2018-2021

NGOs of Concern Involved: PNGO and Hurryat

  • See above for details regarding PNGO.
  1. Grant: “Palestinian Civil Society Platforms: A Vehicle for Grassroots Civil Society Development and Policy Influence

Amount/Years: €1.2 million / 2017

NGOs of Concern Involved: PNGO

  • See above for details regarding PNGO.
  1. Grant: Juthoor: Land, Water, and Human Resource Development in Vulnerable Areas of the West Bank

Amount/Years: €3.6 million/ January 2015-April 2017

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • In 2019, two senior financial employees of UAWC were arrested and are currently standing trial for being part of a PFLP terror cell responsible for the August 2019 murder of 17-year old Rena Shnerb.
  • Samer Arbid, UAWC accountant and previously UAWC “financial officer”: Samer Arbid is on trial for commanding a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing, murdering Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother. According to the indictment against him (on file), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.
  • Abdel Razeq Farraj, UAWC “Finance and Administration Director”: According to his indictment (on file), Razeq Farraj held a senior PFLP post and authorized the August 23, 2019 bombing. He is currently standing trial.
  1. Grant:Moving herders from aid dependence to self-sustaining growth through livestock husbandry development and market expansion

Amount/Years: €1.9 million/ October 2013-October 2015

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Making olive oil competitive through the introduction of local value chain approach in the oPt

Amount/Years: €609,895/ January 2013-June 2015

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Moving herders from aid dependence to self-sustaining growth through livestock husbandry development and market expansion

Amount/Years: €3.5 million/ October 2013- September 2015

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant: Making olive oil competitive through the introduction of local value chain approach in the oPt

Amount/Years: €2.48 million/ February 2013- July 2015

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Food security governance of Bedouin pastoralist groups in the Mashreq

Amount/Years: 80% of €1.87 million/2013-2016

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Enhancement of food security in Taybeh and Ramoun through rural development and agricultural extension

Amount/Years: 80% of €2.9 million/ 2011-2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Making wastewater an asset: increasing agricultural production by introducing irrigation from non-conventional water sources

Amount/Years: 80% of  €3 million/ 2011-2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: UAWC

  • See above for details regarding UAWC
  1. Grant:Srengthening the Role of Palestinian Civil Society in Development

Amount/Years: €399,692/ 2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: PNGO

  • See above for details regarding PNGO
  1. Grant:Strengthening human rights and access to information in the Gaza Strip

Amount/Years: € 411,861/ 2014-2016

NGOs of Concern Involved: PCHR

  1. Grant:Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district

Amount/Years: €113,112/ 2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: HWC

  • See above for details regarding HWC
  1. Grant:Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district

Amount/Years: €105,679/ 2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: HWC

  • See above for details regarding HWC
  1. Grant:Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to freedom of association in the Gaza Strip

Amount/Years: €100,707/ 2014

NGOs of Concern Involved: Al-Dameer

  • See above for details regarding Al-Dameer
  1. Grant:Contributing to the protection and promotion of rights of PwDs and to their enhanced participation in increasingly inclusive and accessible communities in Hebron district

Amount/Years: €356,350/ 2014-2016

NGOs of Concern Involved: HWC

  • See above for details regarding HWC
  1. Grant:Economic Development and Promotion of the Tourism and Cultural Sectors in East Jerusalem

Amount/Years: €950,000/ 2012

NGOs of Concern Involved: Bisan

  • See above for details regarding Bisan
  1. Grant:Contributing to the respect, protection and promotion of the right to freedom of association in the Gaza Strip

Amount/Years: €281,251/ 2012-2015

NGOs of Concern Involved: Al-Dameer, PNGO

  • See above for details regarding Al-Dameer and PNGO
  1. Grant:Mobilising Media to Empower Citizens and Civil Society for Human Rights, Democratic Reform, and Intra-Palestinian Reconciliation

Amount/Years: €288,290/ 2011

NGOs of Concern Involved: Al-Haq, Ma’an Network

  • See above for details regarding Al-Haq; see below for details regarding Ma’an Network

EU Funding to WATC

In addition to the above-listed grants, in December 2014, the EU authorized a €499,735 grant for a 30-month project titled “My Right to My Future – Women’s Participation in Peace Building and Conflict Resolution – My Right.” The project, funded via the EU Partnership for Peace Programme, was implemented by the Palestinian NGO Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) and the international NGO CARE.

In May 2017, apparently during the EU grant period,4 WATC inaugurated a youth center for girls in the town of Burqa, near Nablus. As reported by Palestinian Media Watch, the center was named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who in 1978 murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children.

Funding for this building was provided by Norway, UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), and Palestinian Authority Ministry of Local Government.  Upon learning that the center had been named after a terrorist, the Norwegian government and the United Nations issued strong condemnations. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende stated that “We have asked for the logo of the Norwegian representation office to be removed from the building immediately, and for the funding that has been allocated to the centre to be repaid.”

Timeline of EU Funding to Terror-Tied NGOs