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May 11, 2020 12:24 pm

European Lawmakers Protest EU Official’s Pledge to Fund Palestinian NGOs Linked to Terror

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The European Parliament’s debating chamber during a plenary session, in Strasbourg, France. Photo: David Iliff.

A group of members of the European Parliament have sent a joint letter to the European Union’s top diplomat expressing outrage at the news that a top EU official had pledged to continue supporting Palestinian NGOs that employed members of terror organizations.

The promise was made in a missive sent by Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff — the head of the EU Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip — to the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). Von Burgsdorff affirmed the EU’s ongoing backing of Palestinian NGOs despite their employment of members of terror organizations proscribed by the EU itself.

No Palestinian NGO, he said, would have to “change its political position toward any Palestinian faction or to discriminate against a natural person based on his/her political affiliation.”

In letter to EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, MEPs Lukas Mandl of Austria, Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou of Greece, Petras Auštrevičius of Lithuania, Carmen Avram of Romania, Dietmar Köster of Germany and Alexandr Vondra of the Czech Republic, all chairs of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel organization, condemned Burgsdorff’s statement a violation of EU policy and demanded an investigation.

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Pointing out several EU regulations that explicitly forbid funding organizations with terror connections, the signatories asserted that Burgsdorff’s statement “contravenes the spirit of the above-referenced 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.”

“The EU is funding Palestinian NGOs to help the Palestinians build a democratic and pluralistic society which is critical to facilitate a negotiated two-state solution,” they said. “Ensuring that these NGOs are in no way connected to terrorists ought to be the very minimum our diplomats and officials must help ensure.”

“We owe it to our taxpayers, particularly in the midst of a deep economic crisis, that their money is spent to advance — not violate — our values,” the letter added.

The signatories then made three demands, including “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.”

They also asked for “immediate clarification and reassurance from you that EU funds are never knowingly spent to benefit NGOs linked to terrorists.”

“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 concluded.

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