Top Jewish Group Calls European Union Funding of Palestinian NGOs That Employ Terrorists ‘Incomprehensible’
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) expressed concern on Thursday after a European Union (EU) official said to funding NGOs that hire Palestinian terrorists would be maintained.
In a letter to the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff — the head of the EU Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip — affirmed the EU’s continued support to Palestinian NGOs despite the employment of members of terror organizations proscribed by the EU itself.
“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,” Burgsdorff wrote.
He added that no Palestinian NGO would have to “change its political position toward any Palestinian faction or to discriminate against a natural person based on his/her political affiliation.”
The letter was sent in response to a Dec. 2019 EU regulation that said, “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.”
Many Palestinian terrorist groups are subject to “EU restrictive measures,” including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
No specific individuals have been proscribed, however, and thus Burgsdorff appeared to be pointing out a loophole that could be used in order to continue employing terrorists without being subject to EU sanctions.
Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC’s EU office, said in a statement, “It is simply incomprehensible that the EU, whose declared goal is to facilitate a peaceful two-state solution, would use scarce taxpayer money to finance NGOs connected to terrorists — quite literally the enemies of peace.”
“No amount of due diligence about the specific projects funded by EU money could possibly clean the EU from such a stain,” he asserted.
Schwammenthal added, “EU officials are tasked with implementing EU law and policy and not to find technical loopholes to circumvent the very spirit and essence of what the EU stands for and is trying to achieve.”
“For an EU official to apparently adopt the language of Palestinian hardliners, who routinely refer to terror groups as ‘legitimate political positions and affiliations’ is nothing short of breathtaking,” he said.
“In the same letter, von Burgsdorff speaks about the value of an empowered and pluralistic civil society,’ Schwammenthal noted. “How the Palestinians will ever build such a society if even the EU financially supports the mainstreaming of terrorist is hard to imagine.”