TEL AVIV – A German lawmaker has launched an inquiry into whether his country’s federal government is unwittingly funding Palestinian terrorism.
Volker Beck, head of the German-Israel Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, suggested that humanitarian aid donated by Germany and the EU was being misappropriated by the Palestinians toward terror-related activities, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In letters addressed to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and obtained by the Post, Beck asks, “What information is available to the Federal government about payments by the PA, possibly through intermediaries, to Palestinian prisoners involved in terrorist activities against Israel or its citizens?”
Beck cited a testimony presented to U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 6 by Yigal Carmon, President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which included detailed statistics on the extent of Palestinian payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of “martyrs” – i.e., terrorists killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis.
“What information is available to the Federal government about payments by the PA [Palestinian Authority], possibly through intermediaries, to the families of dead Palestinian terrorists (so-called martyrs) who were involved in terrorist activities against Israel or its citizens?” Beck asked.
“How does the Federal government intend to rule out that the PA is directly or indirectly financing terrorists or the relatives of terrorists with money from the Federal Republic of Germany or the EU?” he added.
The Federal government defended the move, saying the money was being used for designated humanitarian projects, such as the funding of United Nations schools for Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries.
“In 2015, bilateral support by the Federal government for the people of Palestine and in UNRWA camps outside of Palestine (in other words in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria) totaled around €162 million. These funds financed specific projects, primarily in the areas of development cooperation, culture, and education, along with humanitarian aid and civilian crisis prevention,” the statement said.
“Payments were made directly to service providers, only for earmarked projects, according to their progress and in return for services, such as construction work. The Federal government does not provide any budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority.”
In a separate instance, the Merkel administration wrote a letter defending the move.
“The Palestinian Authority itself stopped payments to prisoners following the dissolution of the Ministry for Prisoners Affairs in 2014. The PLO Commission for Prisoners Affairs provides financial support to the families of Palestinians detained in Israel.”
However, Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) in 2015 claimed that western donor countries were still giving the PA more than a billion dollars, with the understanding that the PA has stopped paying salaries to terrorists. When Itamar Marcus, the director of PMW, presented his findings to Dutch, British, and German parliamentarians, German MP Albert Weiler responded by saying, “It should not be possible for anti-democratic terror organizations to murder Jews or Christians in the name of their religion. We must fight this strongly. And the whole world should be doing it together.”
Germany cited the Palestinian claim that paying salaries to the families of terrorists was justified.
“The Palestinian side justifies this by pointing out the need to prevent a descent into poverty by these families, whom the Palestinians see as frequent victims of collective penalties such as demolition of housing and revoking of work permits. The extent of this support depends, among other things, on the length of the detainment. To the knowledge of the Federal government there is no distinction made according to the reasons for detainment,” the letter said.
The Merkel administration added that “German funds are not used for these payments, neither directly nor indirectly through the European Union,” and the German public should be “assured that this does not occur.”
“Independent thereof, the Palestinian Authority is called upon to take all necessary steps against the incitement of violence and to increase its efforts in the fight against terrorism. These are also among the recommendations of the latest report by the Middle East Quartet, which was welcomed by the Federal government,” the letter said.
In August, the German government halted funds to U.S. Christian charity World Vision amid allegations that 60 percent of its total budget was funneled to Hamas for terror purposes.