European Funding for Palestinian NGOs as Political Subcontracting

(Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies) Gerald Steinberg - The European Union and the individual states of Western Europe together provide 35 million euros annually to Palestinian NGOs. From an Israeli perspective, the recipient organizations are significant political and economic actors in the Palestinian context, and serve as important intermediaries for European government officials. These NGOs are among the leaders of intense soft power conflict, voicing repeated allegations of fundamental Israeli wrongdoing and encouraging anti-Israel campaigns. The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to open "war crimes" investigations and the publication of a blacklist of mostly Israeli firms by the UN Human Rights Council are products of this activity. In most other cases, the processes by which European governments provide NGO grants are based on periodic calls for proposals (CfPs) and usually the recipient organizations change. In contrast, much of the funding for Palestinian NGO partners is done behind closed doors and without CfPs, and there is very little variation in the choice of recipients. To the degree that the outcomes are evaluated after each grant cycle, this process usually relies on NGO self-reporting. An examination of European budgetary support over the past 20 years reveals a pattern whereby Palestinian NGOs emerge as policy subcontractors and influence-multipliers on behalf of the EU and the individual European governments, acting through means that European officials and diplomats are unable to pursue themselves. Another exceptional dimension is the degree to which many of Europe's Palestinian NGO grantees were created by or are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated as a terror organization by the EU, as well as the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Instead of advancing the formal objectives of promoting peace, economic development, Palestinian democracy, and rapprochement, the hundreds of millions of euros provided by European governments to Palestinian NGOs during a 20-year period have sustained the conflict through campaigns alleging Israeli violations of "international law" and "apartheid," as well as active participation in lawfare and boycott campaigns. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and heads the Institute for NGO Research in Jerusalem.

2021-12-30 00:00:00

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