Denmark Says Will Tighten Conditions for Financial Aid to Palestinian NGOs

Decision comes after examination that began in May following Israeli pressure. Nevertheless, Danish Foreign Ministry stresses its country will continue to support human rights organizations in Palestine

President Reuven Rivlin shakes hands with Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen at the the presidential compound in Jerusalem, May 17, 2017.
GALI TIBBON / AFP

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced on Friday that his country will tighten its conditions for donations to Palestinian NGOs by limiting the number of organization receiving support, and increasing oversight. The decision comes after an investigation opened last May, following Israeli pressure.

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On May 17, Samuelsen visited Jerusalem and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Danish and Israeli diplomats noted that during their meeting Netanyahu asked Samuelsen to cut Danish funding for Palestinian organizations and NGOs involved in inciting against Israel and promoting boycott, divestment and sanction measures against it.

Netanyahu even forwarded a list of Palestinian and Israeli organizations receiving Danish funding to the foreign minister and which Israel claims are involved with BDS efforts.

“We must be sure that Danish aid helps to advance human rights in the Palestinian territories in a positive manner," the statement said. “It is possible that in wake of the examination we will be forced to stop our support of a number of Palestinian organizations. Until this examination is complete we won't sign any new grants for Palestinian organizations."

On Friday, Samuelsen’s office said that due to the investigation’s results, they have decided to freeze financial support for the rest of 2017, and to create more stringent criteria for the future. “It is important that there is confidence that Danish assistance is going for the right purposes,” said a statement from the Danish Foreign Ministry.

“Today I decided that there will be new and tight conditions for receiving Danish assistance in the future,” the statement continued. “At the same time, there are strong aid-related reasons to focus on fewer organizations. This will mean that a number of organizations that receive funding today will not receive Danish support in the future.”

The Danish Foreign Ministry further emphasized that “Denmark will continue to support civil society organizations focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine,” and that this goal “is a high priority.”

The statement also noted that Denmark supports a two-state solution, which Palestinian and Israeli civil society organizations should be promoting.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the move “the right step” and described it as praiseworthy and necessary. “European countries fund Palestinian organizations with ties to terrorism, who promote a boycott against Israel. I call upon additional European states to implement similar steps,” Erdan added.