Palestinian leaders unite sending protest letters to European Union officials, claiming groups like Hamas are merely political parties not terror organizations, noting the EU stipulation nullifies their national “struggle against Israeli occupation,” demanding continued EU funding without restrictions.
By Eldad Beck
The Palestinian Authority has launched a broad public political campaign to convince the European Union 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 EU, 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 by the EU.
The Palestinian campaign to annul the EU stipulation is based on the claim that “the struggle against Israeli occupation” is not terror, and that PA institutions included on the EU terror 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 EU Parliament and European foreign ministers, expressing his astonishment over the new EU condition.
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 EU re-examine the new stipulations.
Erekat condemned the new restrictions, arguing that some of the organizations placed 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, “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 EU’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 were not willing to be the EU’s “policeman.”
Olga Deutsch, the 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 EU 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.
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