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Position Paper: Understanding Palestinian Rejection of Politically Conditional Funding
Position Paper: Understanding Palestinian Rejection of Politically Conditional Funding

In the non-profit sector, almost all funding from international, governmental and non-governmental agencies is conditional or restricted; the designated grant amount is intended for specific projects or purposes that are determined by the donor. Within the spectrum of existing and possible conditions, some are acceptable while some are not. The criterion to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable conditions is their consistency with mutually legitimate needs, rights and interests of the donor and recipient organizations. 

Administrative and financially conditioned funding includes temporal, thematic  and/or reporting conditions: the funds must be used within a certain time frame to achieve predetermined agreed upon results within a specific priority and monitored both administratively and financially. These types of restrictions are acceptable as they pose no political or moral dilemmas for the recipient agency but do require a certain level of administrative and financial acumen in order to fulfil the usually robust reporting requirements.

Politically conditional funding that is consistent with human rights and international law within mutually recognized priorities is also acceptable. Examples of these conditions are promoting political participation (freedom of expression, association, establishing political factions…etc.), enhancing the role and participation of women (gender parity and equality), or promoting and monitoring regular democratic public elections. Although such conditions are political in theme and nature, they are in line with well recognized rights and the legitimate role of civil society organizations and movements.

There has been an escalation over the last decade of restrictions on funding that have taken the form of unacceptable political conditions. The process of increasing restrictions to funding, accompanied by the steady deterioration in democratic processes and the increase human rights violations and crimes against an oppressed people has been dubbed “shrinking space”.

The shrinking space – including the unacceptable funding conditions -  has developed as a direct consequence of the Israeli-Zionist strategy to suppress, silence and destroy Palestinian civil society, particularly those organizations that have adopted and promote a rights-based approach and accountability for Israeli human rights violations and international crimes. Moreover, it indirectly validates the Israeli-Zionist false allegations aiming at delegitimizing Palestinian civil society organizations. The legitimacy of Palestinian civil society institutions, in their vast and varied fields of work, is derived from their contribution to the struggle for liberation from Israeli colonialism and apartheid. The fallacies, allegations, and defamations of the campaign of Israeli Ministry of Strategic Planning, NGO Monitor and other Zionist-Israeli instigated and spurred the perpetually shrinking space. Many Israeli allegations resulted in a range of conditions that have been implicitly imposed by most donors on Palestinian civil society.  Currently, this steady increase of restrictions has culminated into their explicit imposition into grant contracts. However, these donors must realize that playing this role contradicts their obligations and self-espoused principles like neutrality, partnership and a human rights-based approach, threatening their strategic relationship with the Palestinian people.

Specifically, the imposition by the donor community of conditions that marginalize, delegitimize or exclude certain rights and aspects of the Palestinian national struggle are unacceptable political conditions.

These conditions have taken the form of:

  • Censoring the language and terminology utilized in reporting, research and publications produced by Palestinian organizations; this comes in the form of requests to omit terms like the Nakba, colonization, Palestinian refugees, right of return, and apartheid from publications and reports.
  • Rejecting or refusing to fund projects that explicitly or implicitly support the rights of Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – especially the right to return.
  • Rejecting or refusing to fund organizations and projects that support the call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) as a legitimate form of non-armed resistance thereby condoning the criminalization of the BDS movement.
  • Including anti-terrorism clauses and policies that criminalize legitimate Palestinian political factions and resistance and require that Palestinian civil society perform procedures that amount to security and policing measures with their own people.
  • Limiting the scope of projects to humanitarian aid and/or restrict international advocacy interventions that highlight the failure of the international community to fulfill their moral and legal responsibilities and obligations and to hold Israel accountable.
  • Limiting the geographic scope of projects and beneficiaries to the Palestinian territory and people occupied in 1967 (oPt), thereby buttressing the fragmentation and isolation strategy imposed by Israel; additionally within the oPt, this includes hindering the implementation of projects and activities in Gaza by oPt based organizations, which results in institutionalization of  the division/fragmentation.
  • Promoting and encouraging projects that ignore the needs and rights of the Palestinian people, the root causes of the conflict and ongoing illegal actions of the oppressor (Israel), under the guise of ‘peace-building’ and ‘conflict resolution’.

The European Union (EU) and some of its member states have recently chosen to impose anti-terrorism clauses and annexes that label numerous Palestinian political and resistance factions as terrorist organizations into their funding contracts. The imposition of these lists of alleged terrorist entities forces Palestinian civil society to acknowledge the lists, which is morally and legally unacceptable. This, in turn, obligates Palestinian civil society to relinquish and compromise on our national and legitimate rights according to international law – completely ignoring the unique context of Palestine as an occupied country and Palestinians as an oppressed people with the right to legitimate resistance until we attain our right to self-determination. It also delegitimizes and criminalizes the history, root causes and resistance of the Palestinian people. Additionally, and despite confirming that there is no single Palestinian individual currently in the EU lists, the imposed regulations stipulate that Palestinian organizations that receive funding, must  implement ‘screening’ and ‘vetting’ procedures, requiring Palestinian civil society to play the role of security accomplice, which constitutes discrimination based on political affiliation against its people. In practice, this will isolate and delegitimize civil society organizations at the national level, as well as cause additional fragmentation among the Palestinian national movement.

As such, these conditions do not constitute a mutually determined legitimate purpose consistent with our people’s rights and needs and therefore, are completely rejected.
The Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding