Due to conflicting and varied communication and responses with the European Union (EU) on what has become known as a condition to criminalize the legitimate struggle of our people and political parties, especially within the contracts of the EU, we, the Palestinian National Campaign Rejecting Political Funding put forth these clarifications.
We confirm our determination and commitment to work to preserve the united position of Palestinian civil society on the basis of rejecting conditional funding that affects the rights of our people and undermines their dignity. We recognize the different views of Palestinian organizations and networks on the potential mechanisms of dealing with the issue, and not on the principle, which is a natural and healthy phenomenon. In all cases, it is necessary to emphasize that this difference does not legitimize the signing of bilateral agreements that include political conditions such as the conditions of the EU developed under the pretext of clarification after 15 July 2019.
In recent days, Palestinian organizations and networks have contacted Mr. Tomas Niklasson, Acting Representative of the EU in Jerusalem, to request an extension of the period available for signing grant contracts in order to be able to discuss further and decide on this issue, freely and without pressure, additionally requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the conditions. Mr. Niklasson's responses were not only negative, but also inferred disrespect for the long-standing partnership between the EU and civil society organizations, with complete disregard for their views. Refusal to postpone the dates set for signing and insisting that not signing at the appointed time will lead to the cancellation of contracts is pressure that threatens the position of the organizations and causes them to take actions that affect them. Also, rejecting the urgent meeting request and linking it to the requirement to present a letter of “common understanding of the legal obligations under Article 1.5 (bis),” that the organizations had rejected prior to any dialogue.
This type of relationship and conduct are rejected, and the insistence by the EU is an embodiment of the policy of investing funds to serve political agendas that contradict the rights of our people and violate our national dignity. The intensification of pressure on Palestinian organizations under the pretext of time, and the threat to reallocate the funds, is unacceptable pressure. Its blatant exploitation of the organizations’ need to continue their work and serve their beneficiaries, especially in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. The EU’s insistence poses legitimate questions regarding their ultimate goals - particularly as this occurs in conjunction with the ‘Deal of the Century’. The so-called ‘Deal’ not only explicitly criminalizes the struggle of our people, denying our right to legitimate resistance, but also permits Israel to liquidate those who oppose its colonial and apartheid regime. The EU is required more than ever to clarify and correct its behavior in order to prove its goodwill towards our people. Otherwise, the EU bears the full responsibility for splintering the relationship with Palestinian civil society.
The claim that removing the condition from contracts with Palestinian organizations will harm the image of Palestinian civil society, especially the organizations that the Zionist-Israeli de-legitimization and demonization campaigns recently focus on, is entirely false. These campaigns have been ongoing, and the most recent attack began before the EU condition was instituted. The EU must prove that it is not subject to this Israeli blackmail and reject it by not insisting that Palestinian institutions to sign, which will be hailed as a great achievement by Israel. Signing the EU contracts, with the existing conditions, constitutes an endorsement for Israeli false allegations that will be utilized by Zionist-Israeli groups in the near future, to further condemn Palestinian civil society and promote more lies. The EU should realize that even if the most targeted Palestinian organizations sign the contracts as they are and without any reservations or annexes, they will still be targeted by and suffer from demonizing and delegitimizing attacks of the Zionist-Israeli groups.
Claiming that the contract conditions are universal for all parts of the world is not true. The Campaign has obtained evidence that after 15 July 2019 (the time that the “clarification’ was initiated) the EU concluded contracts with civil institutions in other countries, including countries in the Arab region and in Palestine 48, which don’t contain the same condition and reference. There is also evidence that the EU has adapted its contracts in certain countries and with certain organizations, meaning that the claim that the contracts cannot be changed or that no exceptions are allowed is a sham. Therefore, the European Union must take into account the specificity of the situation of Palestine, which is subject to an Israeli colonial and apartheid regime, and the specificity of the situation of the Palestinian people who are seeking their right to self-determination on their lands.
The Campaign reaffirms that any political conditions criminalizing our people’s legitimate struggle and their political parties, whether or not they are on the EU list or any other, are utterly rejected.
The Palestinian National Campaign Rejecting Conditional Funding calls on:
1. Palestinian civil society to unify their strategy in challenging the conditions on the basis of rejecting these conditions and preserving our people's rights and national dignity. We call on our organizations to unite and refuse to individually sign as this will weaken the Palestinian civil society strength required to challenge the ‘Deal of the Century’.
2. the EU to withdraw its conditions and review them on the basis of the specificity of the situation in Palestine, and not to submit to the exacerbated and endless Zionist-Israeli campaigns that endeavor to delegitimize Palestinian organizations, and not to force them to sign a contract that is utterly rejected in principle.
3. International civil society and the solidarity movement that support the rights of our people to echo our demand to deal with Palestine within its specific legal context and insist that donor agencies, especially the EU, omit the political conditions within their contracts that affect our people’s rights and national dignity.