EU sends “clarification letter” to PNGO about EU funding of Palestinian NGOs

On 30 March 2020, the European Union (EU) sent an official “clarification letter” to the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) about its funding of Palestinian NGOs. The letter was provided after intensive deliberations with PNGO and several of its member organizations and addresses PNGO’s concerns and questions raised in this context. It is signed by Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the EU Representative in Jerusalem.

In its letter, the EU reiterates its longstanding support “of the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom, independence and self-determination”, clarifying that, “the EU fully respects the right of Palestinians to use all means allowed under International law and relevant conventions to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in line with international agreed principles”.

Deliberations with the EU were triggered at the end of 2019 by PNGO’s profound concerns about the implications of a provision added to the EU’s funding contracts, designed to prevent the allocation of EU funds to persons and organizations named on the EU’s list of “restrictive measures”. In its letter, the EU reconfirmed the obligation of Palestinian NGOs to comply with this provision, which applies to “all recipients of EU funds worldwide”.

At the same time, the EU clarified that the provision only applies to persons explicitly named in its restrictive list and emphasized that no Palestinian persons are included in that list. The EU also clarified that the provision is limited to “financial procedures”, adding: “The EU does not ask any civil society organization to change its political position towards any Palestinian faction or to discriminate against any natural person based on his/her political affiliation”.

Contrary to claims promoted by ongoing misinformation campaigns, PNGO and Palestinian NGOs funded by the EU are thus not expected to endorse the EU’s list of restrictive measures, which mistakenly includes several Palestinian political factions. Palestinian NGOs are rather expected to not transfer EU funds to these political groups.

In its clarification letter, the EU deplores these misinformation campaigns and “calls on all parties to refrain from spreading false and misleading information and to avoid language of aggression and threats.” Such language has also been directed at PNGO members signing funding contracts with the EU.

PNGO thanks Mr. Von Burgsdorff and his Office for their constructive engagement in the past months and welcomes the EU’s clarification letter, which comes at a time when Palestinian civil society and the Palestinian people at large face unprecedented threats, culminating in the Israeli government’s intention and preparations to annex large and vital parts of occupied Palestine and impose a full-blown regime of apartheid.

PNGO calls on the EU to proactively counter these threats, in line with its obligation and commitment to uphold international law and its declared position in “support of the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom, independence and self-determination”.

Also in view of the escalating COVID-19 crisis, PNGO calls on the EU to urgently increase its efforts to secure an environment “where civil society organisations are able to fully play their legitimate role in Palestinian society, not only in their important function as service providers but also as advocates and watchdogs”. PNGO looks forward to continuing its partnership with the EU to secure and maintain this environment.

Finally, PNGO reaffirms its opposition to Palestinian political factions being included in the EU’s list of restrictive measures. PNGO is ready to contribute to political and legal efforts to removing Palestinian factions from that list. Israel’s long-term colonial military occupation is the root cause of violence in Palestine and the region.

Read the EU’s official clarification letter here.