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The European Union's Funding of Organizations Close to Hamas



October 13, 2023

5 min read




Since the unprecedented terrorist attack on the Israeli population on October 7, 2023, European governments have been reluctant to suspend all or part of the European subsidies paid to the Palestinian Authority. Between 2021 and 2023, this represented 691 million euros ($728.2 million). Some governments want to distinguish humanitarian subsidies from those likely to directly fund Hamas terrorism. However, the European Commission also funds organizations close to Hamas and other antisemitic and anti-Israeli terrorist groups through its various programs. An in-depth examination of the groups that the European Union (EU) funds is essential to combat Hamas’ hatred and calls for violence against the State of Israel.

Problematic Funding From the European Commission

According to data published in the EU’s financial transparency register, the European Commission has paid grants to organizations reputed to be close to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Muslim Brotherhood. Between 2014 and 2020, Islamic Relief Worldwide received $13.7 million in European subsidies. However, this association has been on Israel’s list of terrorist organizations since 2014 because of its alleged role in channeling funds to Hamas. It is also considered to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was not until 2021 that the European Commission announced that it had been informed of these facts. It will, therefore, have taken six years for the Commission to stop its subsidies.

The European Commission has also granted subsidies to organizations close to the PFLP, a group that Hamas describes as “a major political partner.” This is the case, for example, of the NGO Al-Haq, which received $316,000 in European subsidies in 2018. According to an Israeli statement to the U.N. in 1994, Al-Haq Director General Shawan Jabarin is accused of having been a member of the PFLP. In May 2018, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express halted online credit card donations to Al-Haq due to the group’s links to the PFLP. However, in a written question, MEPs acting on behalf of the Socialist Group (S&D) expressed indignation that in 2021, the Israeli Defense Minister had placed Al-Haq on the list of terrorist organizations. They criticized the Commission for suspending its funding to this organization. Al-Haq also received nearly $2.1 million from the Open Society Foundation between 2016 and 2020.

The European Commission has also awarded grants totaling $527,000 between 2014 and 2019 to the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO). FEMYSO is the youth branch of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), an organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, an anthropologist at the CNRS and specialist in Islamist movements. This analysis is also shared in a letter from members of the French Government to the European Commission in 2021. It is well known that Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. FEMYSO brings together 32 Islamic organizations, including the Islamic Community Millî Görüş – Youth and Students. The German domestic intelligence agency considers that the Millî Görüş movement propagates antisemitic attitudes and that its objectives are not compatible with the fundamental principles of the liberal democratic order. The French government considers that the Millî Görüş organization does not respect the values of the Republic. Today, FEMYSO enjoys privileged status as an NGO with the Council of Europe and as an “interest group” with the European Parliament.

The European Parliament Must Take Action Against All Subsidies Paid to Organizations Close to Hamas

On October 16, the European Parliament will meet for a plenary session in Strasbourg, during which it will vote on a resolution on the situation in Israel. It has a responsibility to condemn and call for a halt to all European Commission subsidies to organizations supporting Hamas, the PFLP, or the Muslim Brotherhood. It should also call for a parliamentary committee of inquiry into these payments. Light must be shed on the use of these funds.

The European Parliament also has the opportunity to condemn the support given to Hamas by certain political parties and personalities in Europe – in particular, those who, notably in France, question its terrorist nature. Hamas is included, alongside the PFLP, on the EU’s list of persons, groups, and entities subject to specific measures to combat terrorism.

Finally, the European Parliament should recognize that this Hamas aggression is aimed at undermining Israel’s efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with Arab states. In 2020, during the Abraham Accords, Israel signed a peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. These agreements were later joined by Sudan and Morocco. In the same effort to bring peace to the region, on July 14th, 2021, the United Arab Emirates opened its first embassy in Israel, in Tel Aviv.

With this resolution, the ACLJ’s international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), is urging MEPs to call for an end to these subsidies. The ECLJ also calls on the European Parliament to support Israel in its efforts to normalize diplomatic relations despite the destructive actions of Hamas.

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This article was authored by Louis-Marie Bonneau, Research Fellow at the ECLJ.

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