Based on self-reporting and opinions of grantees; fails to independently, professionally, effectively, and impartially analyze funding.
On November 7, the Dutch Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) published its review of Dutch funding to the West Bank and Gaza. The evaluation was conducted following the request made by Dutch MP Raymond De Roon in 2014 regarding the “disappearance of €2 billion of European Union (EU) development funds and about salaries for terrorists” (p.31). The Dutch government also issued a formal response to the evaluation on November 7.
NGO Monitor’s review of the IOB’s “Evaluation of Dutch Development Cooperation in the Palestinian Territories 2008-2014” shows that the evaluation fails to professionally, effectively, and impartially analyze the distribution of Dutch funds. Instead, the evaluation relies on the self-reporting and opinions of Dutch government grantees. Furthermore, the evaluation does not address the core questions that inspired the mandated review, leaving out the issues of aid appropriation by terrorist organizations and funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support anti-peace campaigns against Israel.
The Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) is part of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tasked with evaluating and reporting on the results of Dutch foreign policy. Prof. Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, and NGO Monitor staff met with the evaluation team on August 12, 2015 to discuss grantees using Dutch financing to further their own political agendas (p.143, footnote 416).
From 2008 to mid-2014, Dutch development aid to the West Bank and Gaza amounted to over €192.4 million, including €58.5 million specifically earmarked for NGOs. Projects evaluated in the November 2016 review include funding to numerous political NGOs, such as over €18.5 million to Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) and over €4 million to the NGO Development Center (NDC) and the International Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (“IHL Secretariat” which then distributes funding to NGOs). However, dozens of other projects carried out by political NGOs, amounting to millions of euros in funding, were not evaluated.
NGO Monitor notes the following flaws in the IOB report. The evaluation:
- Quotes and cites NGOs that receive funding from the Dutch government, but does not evaluate these organizations in the report. This creates an inherent conflict of interest and reflects a faulty research methodology.
- Does not address Palestinian Authority payments to convicted terrorists – the issue that sparked the evaluation in the first place.
- Fails to review problematic funding practices, such as support to organizations with ideologies and goals inconsistent with those of the Dutch government. For example, the evaluation reiterates that, “The ultimate goal of Dutch development efforts in the PT [Palestinian Territories] was to contribute to the establishment of two states” (p.17). However, there is no acknowledgement of support for many grantees that undermine a two-state framework.
- Refers prominently and subjectively to “the shrinking democratic space in the Palestinian Territories,” but repeats that corruption within the Palestinian Authority is “relatively low” (p. 25, 26,141). No appropriate methodology is provided to support this statement.
- Does not analyze whether government funding is distributed to projects that have meaningful impact or simply to pay high salaries of employees working at NGOs. For example, staff costs amounted to over 15% of the IHL Secretariat budget and the Manager earns a salary of $10,000/month for 44 months ($440,000) – an extraordinarily high amount for an individual working in the Palestinian economy.
- Criticizes the European Union for its unconditional financing of the Palestinian Authority – calling such funding “unsustainable” (p.125). At the same time, however, the evaluation suggests that NGOs “deserve more support of donors including the Netherlands even if they hold deviating opinions…” (p.28).
- The evaluation contradicts itself stating first that, “Justice sector institutions are basically trusted… Most Palestinian households believe that rule of law institutions such as police, courts and public prosecution are to be trusted and legitimate and choose to use them to resolve disputes” (p.85). The review then states that, “There is a gap between women’s and men’s access to justice. Formal justice is considered slow, which is a reason for avoiding the formal justice system…Access to legal assistance is inadequate, which has negative effects on public perception” (p.85).
Dutch Government Response to the IOB Evaluation
In its response, the Dutch government insists that “the Netherlands does not support activities that incite discrimination and hate speech” (p.6). The response also firmly maintained that the Netherlands “does not fund activities that promote BDS against Israel” (p.6). In contrast, NGO Monitor’s research shows that the Netherlands does support activities of this nature:
- 13 out of 24 “Core recipients” ($5.78 million) of IHL Secretariat grants (a joint funding mechanism of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland) promote BDS and other forms of demonization of Israel, including:
- BADIL (Secretariat funding: $260,000): Is a leader in Palestinian “right of return” and BDS campaigns, has published antisemitic cartoons, as well as posters calling for the elimination of Israel.
- Al-Haq (Secretariat funding: $710,000): Supports legal warfare campaigns and BDS activities. According to the Israeli Supreme Court, Al-Haq director, Shawan Jabarin, has alleged ties to the Palestinian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror organization.
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Secretariat funding: $710,000): Supports BDS and accuses Israel of “crimes” in confronting Palestinians carrying out stabbing attacks.
- Addameer (Secretariat funding: $325,000): Lobbies international frameworks against Israel and supports BDS. Addameer is an official PFLP “affiliate.” The NGO’s chairperson and co-founder, Abdul-latif Ghaith, was banned by Israel from travelling internationally due to his alleged membership in the PFLP; he was also banned from entering the West Bank from 2011 to 2015. Abdul-latif Ghaith was described in an article posted by Miftah(another Palestinian NGO) as a representative of the PFLP.
- Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC): Publicly supports BDS, utilizes “apartheid” rhetoric and other racially charged language, and falsely accuses Israel of “war crime[s].”
Furthermore, the report asserts that “The Israeli government is sometimes sensitive to pressure, especially when it is brought to bear by friendly nations such as the Netherlands” (p.27). This statement, parroted by NGOs to justify their political lobbying efforts, suggests that Dutch government funding for politicalized NGOs plays a similar role.
The IOB evaluation of Dutch funding to the West Bank and Gaza is methodologically flawed and leaves many core questions unanswered. The catalyst for the evaluation – lack of due diligence as demonstrated in funding diverted to pay terrorists – was not addressed in the review. Dutch funding to organizations supporting BDS was also ignored.
Notably, the evaluation’s use of NGOs funded by the Dutch government as credible, objective sources of information violates the basic requirements of good governance.
An independent evaluation, with in-depth research conducted by individuals with no connection to the Dutch government or any of its grantees, is necessary in order to untangle the complexities and hidden dimensions of Dutch government funding to Palestinian entities, including to politicized NGOs.
(Source / 20.11.2016)