PA up in arms after EU conditions aid on severing ties with terror groups

“The national Palestinian campaign to reject conditional funding” has picked up steam in recent weeks.

By Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom via JNS

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a political campaign to convince the European Union (EU) to rescind its decision to prohibit monetary aid to PA-affiliated organizations and institutions if it doesn’t sever all ties with terrorist groups.

“The national Palestinian campaign to reject conditional funding” has picked up steam in recent weeks, after the European Union, for the first time, introduced a fundamental change to the financial aid contracts Palestinian bodies are required to sign, whereby any cooperation with terrorist organizations will result in the unilateral cessation of funding.

The Palestinian campaign to annul this stipulation is based on the claim that “the struggle against Israeli occupation” is not terrorism, and that PA institutions included on the European Union terrorist list are political parties for all intents and purposes. In one instance, Omar al-Qarout, the director of the Gaza-based Hemaya Center For Human Rights, sent a letter to the president of the European Parliament and EU foreign ministers, expressing his astonishment over the new condition.

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In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Israel Hayom, al-Qarout says: “Our concern as a Palestinian civilian organization is that this condition will be maliciously exploited against the Palestinians by the Israeli courts, which will use it as a basis for preventing the funding of projects.”

Ten days ago, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat sent an official letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanding that the European Union reconsider the new stipulations.

Erekat condemned the new restrictions, arguing that some of the organizations on the EU terror list are “Palestinian political parties” and that therefore the new conditions could be viewed as an attempt to disrupt civilian Palestinian political activity and violate “Palestinian human rights as anchored in international law.”

An official in Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry said in response that “Erekat’s letter shows that the most senior echelons on the Palestinian side are involved in this campaign.”

Prior to the submission of Erekat’s letter, 134 Palestinian organizations, which promote the de-legitimization of Israel and boycotts against it, sent a joint letter to the European Union’s envoy to the PA, Thomas Nicholson, claiming that declared terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas were essentially “political parties” and that they are not willing to be the European Union’s “policeman.”

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Olga Deutsch, vice president of Israeli watchdog group NGO Monitor, called the new stipulation “an important and welcome step from Israel’s perspective.”

NGO Monitor was involved in discussions with the European Union on the matter of preventing funding from reaching the hands of terrorist groups.

“The most disconcerting thing is that the EU is now in negotiations with the Palestinians over the conditional funding clause. This stipulation needs to be a given. The negotiations over it contribute to legitimizing the discourse about terror,” said Deutsch.