The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) welcomes the European Commission’s decision to lift its imposed arbitrary suspension of funding on Al Haq’s EU-funded project. The decision was made based on several elements, including EU’s anti-fraud agency’s (OLAF) Assessment, which did not find sufficient grounds to open an investigation. The absence of evidence of fraud or any other irregularities had already been established by the EU Commission in July 2021 in an official letter sent to Al-Haq, following a financial audit of Al-Haq’s EU project, which promotes the implementation of international rights instrument the State of Palestine has acceded to.
PNGO calls on the EU to adopt a different policy and not to yield to Israeli smear and disinformation campaigns against Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs), that aim to distort the image of Palestinian CSOs, and fabricate charges to dry up funding and resources for these local organizations. This is yet another failed attempt to silence Palestinian CSOs that continue to document and expose violations committed by the Israeli occupation in the oPt. PNGO calls on the EU and international donors to set clear parameters of bilateral relationship, to increase partnership with Palestinian Civil Society based on full reciprocity and respect, not to abide to Israeli defamation campaigns against Palestinian CSOs, and to lift political conditions harming Palestinian organizations.
In light of the escalating attacks against Palestinian CSOs, especially the designation of six prominent organizations including Al-Haq as terrorist organizations in early October 2021, the support of partners from the international community becomes vitals for the protection of civil society organizations, human rights defenders and their spaces to work and promote human rights in Palestine. The attacks against Palestinian civil society did not prevent Palestinian organizations from continuing their work to provide essential services to the Palestinian communities, especially in marginalized areas, in villages, rural and isolated areas. We stand in full support of the Palestinian organizations targeted, and we understand this is an attack on the civil society community in Palestine.