Belgium’s Minister of Development, Meryame Kitir, has told a Committee of the Belgian federal parliament that an investigation is underway into whether Belgian development aid may have been used to finance terrorist activities of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Belgian MP Kathleen Depoorter, from the opposition N-VA party, asked Kitir, during a session of the external relations committee this week about the allegations concerning humanitarian funds being diverted to terror groups. She told the committee that a number of NGOs were alleged to have “regularly received funding from Western Europe, while operating at least in part as a cover for activities of the Popular Front”.
Belgium’s Directorate-General for Development Cooperation does not fund Palestinian NGOs directly, but rather via Belgian NGOs as third parties. One of the aims of this state funding was to “mitigate the influence of pro-Israel voices” and was approved in 2016 by then Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation (and now Prime Minister) Alexander De Croo.
Minister Kitir told the committee that in the past five years 6 million € was given to Belgian NGOs active in Palestinian territories, including Broederlijk Delen, Oxfam Solidarity, Viva Salud and Solidarité Socialiste (SolSoc), which are all politicised anti-Israeli NGOs who have partnered with Palestinian NGOs linked to the terrorist PFLP.
The Minister explained that over the past five years 660,000 euros were donated through Viva Salud, 1.8 million euros went via Oxfam and 1.3 million euros through Broederlijk Delen and that an investigation into the use of this money is now under way.
“I take these allegations very seriously. It goes without saying that under no circumstances can development cooperation funds be used for terrorist purposes or to encourage violent behaviour,” she said.
Belgium’s investigation comes as a result of reports sent to the Belgian government by the Israeli government and reports by NGO Monitor which highlighted the close links between several Palestinian NGOs and the PFLP, which is designated by the EU as a terrorist organisation.
MP Kathleen Depoorter pointed out that the reports of links between the Palestinian NGOs and the terrorist organisation caused quite a stir in the government in the Netherlands and payments have now been suspended.