Summary: Following NGO Monitor’s analysis of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), correspondence with the department has further clarified its role in the funding of Palestinian NGOs. The response from DFID highlights the conclusion of the earlier report – that although much of DFID money is spent on genuine humanitarian projects, significant funding has gone to highly politicized NGOs such as the Ramallah Centre for Human Rights, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Land Research Centre.
The response from DFID and additional investigation highlights the conclusion of NGO Monitor’s analysis showing that, although much of DFID money is spent on genuine humanitarian projects, significant funding has gone to highly politicized NGOs that abuse their status. These NGOs make externally directed attacks against Israel, rather than focusing on internal Palestinian development.
Via the “Small Grants Scheme,” DFID is distributing £400,00 to a variety of developmental projects, including improving communal facilities such as parks and libraries, agricultural development and upgrading medical provisions. This scheme also includes two cross communal projects designed to encourage cooperation and dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis: The Computerised Educational Greenhouses for School Children at the Peres Centre for Peace, and Breast Cancer Forums for Palestinian and Israeli Professionals and Survivors (Project COPE). DFID’s CAP also describes £1,060,000 for ‘smaller projects,’ which included funding a ‘Gaza Midwifery Project’ in conjunction with the Save the Children Fund (whose political histories are highly distorted, and go beyond humanitarian assistance).
DFID have also contributed a large amount via the World Bank to NGOs that violate both the Bank and DFID’s funding criteria. Funds have reportedly gone towards “damage repair;” yet money is fungible, and when DFID finance physical repairs, this frees up resources for other parts of the organisation that engage in political attacks against Israel.
Nearly $3,000 (£1,700) went to the Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies, an NGO that “aims at spreading the culture of human rights, democracy, equality and tolerance”, but uses its platform to accuse Israel of “terrirorist [sic] crimes,” “kill[ing] hundreds of disarmed civilians and commit[ing] new massacres” and making children the “sacrifice for the racial hatred”. $9,000 (£5,000) was given to the rights association Al Dameer which claims to be “concerned with presenting legal services to detainees inside Israeli jails.” Al Dameer attacks Israel for violating international human rights law, whilst justifying terrorism: “Palestinian people have the right to resist occupation to achieve their rights, especially their right to self-determination. We must reject the connection between the struggles of the Palestinian people in resisting the Israeli occupation with terrorism.” The radical Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) received $10,000 (£5,500) despite its overtly political behavior (including active participation in the campaign for the academic boycott of Israel, whilst over $140,000 (£80,000) was given to the Land Research Centre (LRC). The LRC does not distinguish between its agricultural projects and political campaigns. Its aims include “monitoring and studying the issues of land confiscation [and] the colonizing Israeli activities such as building settlements” from within its political goals of “maintaining full linkage in shape and content between Arab Jerusalem and the remaining parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, taking into consideration that Jerusalem is an integral part of the West Bank”. Preserving land is seen as both an agricultural and a political issue by the LRC and thus when it advocates “the restoration of collective popular action with the aim of preserving land and agriculture,” the meaning of “collective popular action” can be understood in the widest sense. DFID have also provided nearly $90,000 (£51,000) to the Palestinian Federation Women’s Action Committees, an NGO active in the campaign to boycott and divest from Israel.
Regarding the monitoring of the spending of these grants, DFID relinquishes oversight responsibility by claiming that the “World Bank (who provide overall management of the Palestinian NGO project on behalf of the donors, including DFID) employs very clear and stringent financial management reporting and procurement policies.” However, as the January 3rd NGO Monitor report demonstrates, the World Bank also does not always enforce its own policies. And even if the NGOs are applying for these funds for purely developmental schemes, by supporting projects operated by politicised NGOs, DFID is giving legitimacy to these groups, and also allowing them to free other amounts to be spent on political campaigns and incitement.