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Study accuses EU of failing to push PA on terror stipends, incitement

B’nai Brith report says Brussels should place conditions on aid to Palestinians after years of ignoring hate speech in textbooks and payouts to assailants and families

In this June 23, 2016 file photo, a worker on a lift adjusts the EU flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
In this June 23, 2016 file photo, a worker on a lift adjusts the EU flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

The European Union has not done enough to ensure that its funding to the Palestinian Authority does not support incitement to violence and human rights violations, a study published on Tuesday argued.

“Despite existing anti-terrorism regulations, the EU has not addressed funding by the Palestinian Authority to families of convicted terrorists as well as the persistent issue of incitement to hatred and widespread antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks,” wrote researchers Tommaso Virgili and Paul Stott, who previously authored a report on hidden Muslim Brotherhood networks in Europe.

The study was commissioned by B’nai Brith International, a Jewish non-profit that also advocates on behalf of Israel in the United States and abroad.

The report slammed the EU for failing to ensure accountability in the Palestinian Authority education system. Palestinian textbooks have long been assailed by critics as containing hate speech and incitement, including by a 2021 EU study.

Brussels is the PA’s largest single donor and helps pay the salaries of many of its civil servants, including those who design PA curricula. It is also the second-largest donor to the United Nations Works and Reliefs Agency — which supports Palestinian refugees — sending over $157 million in aid in 2021.

“For many years, the EU has been criticized for failing to align its practice with principles with regard to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian nonprofits,” B’nai Brith director Alan Schneider said during a webinar inaugurating the report.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stands next to European Union envoy to the Palestinians Sven Kuhn von Bergsdorff (right) and election commissioner Hanna Nasir (left) at the opening of a new Palestinian Central Elections Commission headquarters, on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. (WAFA)

The report also charged that the EU does not uphold its own values when it continues to fund the PA, given the PA’s practice of paying stipends to the families of those imprisoned or killed by Israeli forces. Critics call the practice “pay for slay,” as the funds can also go to Palestinians convicted of brutal acts of terror.

The EU for too long “turned a blind eye towards the practice of payments to the families of convicted terrorists, praised as martyrs,” said European parliamentarian David Lega during the report’s launch.

The researchers argued that Brussels should impose conditions on its aid to the PA and consider adopting legislation that bans aid as long as Ramallah continues paying out stipends to Palestinian security prisoners and their families.

While Israeli officials have consistently condemned the prisoner stipends and alleged incitement in textbooks, the government has also sought to bolster the PA, seen as more moderate than its Islamist Hamas rivals, including by increasing international aid to its rapidly draining coffers.

As recently as November, Israel lobbied international donors in Oslo — including the European Union — to step up support for the Palestinian Authority.

The report elided any mention of Ramallah’s policy of security coordination with Israel, in which Palestinian Authority forces work with Israeli intelligence to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in the West Bank.

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