March 21, 2008

UK Parliamentary Enquiry on development aid to Palestinians

NGO Monitor seeks to foster a comprehensive and intellectually honest debate on the critical issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. The aim of NGO Monitor is to challenge distortions and inflammatory rhetoric by providing information and analysis. The fundamental question we should all seek to answer is whether NGOs are positively contributing to the protection of human rights of Israelis. DFID is the Department for International Development in the UK. From NGO Monitor:

As a follow up to its submission dated October 12, 2006, NGO Monitor presented this updated report to the International Development Committee Inquiry on the Humanitarian and Development situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Summary of NGO Monitor’s Submission:

International Development NGOs are playing an increasingly visible and large-scale interventionist role in complex conflicts with humanitarian implications, such as the one between Israel and the Palestinians. Some of these NGOs, while engaged in legitimate projects to enhance civil society, reduce poverty and strengthen institutions, use development aid to pursue political goals which exacerbate conflict. Such partisan activities undermine their stated goals and those of their funding agencies, including government departments.

This report examines how funds given to three DFID-funded organizations -- Christian Aid, War on Want and Oxfam-GB -- ostensibly for humanitarian or development aid, are used for political campaigns which contradict DFID goals. UK policies to promote peace, “reduce how much [a] country relies on overseas aid,” and "support better Palestinian public institutions," are undermined by activities that seek to internationally isolate Israel by referring to it as an "apartheid state," by calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and by repetition of a rejectionist Palestinian narrative which ignores key causes of conflict. This report also looks at the biased political campaigning of DFID-funded NGOs with regards to current events in Gaza. These NGOs include Oxfam-GB, CARE, Save the Children and CAFOD.

Based on this material, we discuss the urgent need for DFID to reconsider the extent to which recipient NGOs advance peace and development goals. Although NGOs are in a unique position to effectively respond to humanitarian concerns, DFID should ensure that its funds are not being used to pursue political goals that exacerbate conflict.

To read the full submission, click here.