Friday, 18 Sep 2020 - 29 of Elul, 5780

Several members of the European Parliament express outrage over terror-linked groups being eligible for EU funding

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The MEPs asked EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to initiate an investigation ‘’to shed light on this matter and to ensure that EU taxpayer money is spent in line with EU values to advance EU policies.’’

‘’We urge you to initiate a review of the standards and criteria for NGO funding in general and specifically to Palestinian groups, some of whom are employing terrorists and terror group sympathizers, propagate antisemitism, and promote the BDS movement against the Jewish state,’’ they wrote in their letter.

Several Members of the European Parliament have expressed outrage over terror-linked groups being eligible for EU funding of NGOs.

Last week, the Israeli foreign ministry summoned the EU envoy to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret to demand a ‘’clarification ‘’over the matter and demanded a complete overhaul of funding rules ensuring taxpayer money is spent in line with European laws and values.

‘’We are alarmed that a senior EU diplomat stated that Palestinian NGOs that are affiliated with EU-designated terrorist groups will remain eligible to receive EU funding,’’ wrote MEPs Lukas Mandl (Austria), Anna Michelle Asimakopouloun (Greece), Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuania), Carmen Avram , Dietmar Köster (Germany) and Alexandr Vondra (Czech Republic) in an open letter to Eu foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The issue came out after the head of the European Union Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, wrote in a letter on 30 April 2020 to an umbrella organization of Palestinian NGOs 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 list is not excluded from benefitting 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.”

‘’We are alarmed that a senior EU diplomat stated that Palestinian NGOs that are affiliated with EU-designated terrorist groups will remain eligible to receive EU funding,’’ wrote the six MEPs in their letter.

They noted that the Annex II of the “General conditions applicable to European Union-financed grant contracts for external actions” states in Art. 1.5 bis. 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.”

For the MEPs, the EU official statement ‘’contravenes the spirit of the general conditions as well as basic EU values and raises serious questions about this EU official’s compliance with those critical values and regulations guiding our representatives’ conduct abroad.’’

They added: ‘’It cannot be the task of the EU’s representative in Ramallah to reassure Palestinian NGOs that they can continue to be linked to EU-listed terror organizations and hire their members and supporters as long as those individuals themselves don’t appear on the EU list.’’

In a response to a parliamentary question last month, European Commissioner in charge of Neighborhood Policy, Oliver Várhelyi, stated:  “The Palestinian Authority provides a list of eligible beneficiaries which is checked by EU-contracted independent auditors against a list of eligibility criteria as well as a second check of individuals considered to be associated with any terrorist organisations or activities. No payments are made to any beneficiaries falling within these categories.”

The MEPs asked Borrell to initiate an investigation ‘’to shed light on this matter and to ensure that EU taxpayer money is spent in line with EU values to advance EU policies.’’

‘’We urge you to initiate a review of the standards and criteria for NGO funding in general and specifically to Palestinian groups, some of whom are employing terrorists and terror group sympathizers, propagate antisemitism, and promote the BDS movement against the Jewish state,’’ they wrote in their letter.

 

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