European Parliament urged to tightly ‘control’ aid to Palestinians


(JTA) — Citing alleged corruption by Palestinian recipients of aid money, the European Parliament’s Israel-relations czar urged more oversight by E.U. donor states.

Fulvio Martusciello, the chairman of the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, issued the call during a parliamentary debate Wednesday in Strasbourg on E.U. funding for the Middle East, his office wrote in a statement.

“We are talking millions-euro projects that see part of their funds going to individuals who actually shouldn’t receive a single euro,” Martusciello, an Italian delegate for the center-right People’s Party bloc, said. “The money comes from E.U. taxpayers, and we need to exercise tight control on it.”

Martusciello cited a 2013 report by the European Court of Auditors that found the Palestinians had been using European money for years to pay employees in the Gaza Strip, some of whom had not worked in seven years.

Palestinian Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani defended the payments, saying the employees had families to support. Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since a bloody 2007 coup, has replaced with its own loyalists the P.A. officials receiving the salaries.

The European Parliament in April 2014 adopted a nonbinding resolution saying that payroll problems raise concerns about money laundering and terrorism financing.

It also noted the Palestinian Authority’s controversial salary payments to the families of terrorists serving time in Israeli jails. In an unprecedented move, the parliament called for future E.U. funding to be contingent on Palestinian compliance with reform recommendations.

Set up in 1979, the delegation headed by Martusciello is responsible for parliamentary ties with Israel.

According to data discussed at the meeting, the European Union gives $335 million each year in aid to the Palestinian Authority, in addition to individual donations by member states. Since 1994, $7.7 billion in EU funds have been transferred to Ramallah, including for capacity building.

In contrast, in 2013, E.U. humanitarian aid to Bangladesh, a disaster-prone and poor nation with a population of over 155 million, totaled just $12.3 million, according to the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department. In 2013, the department provided $37.7 million for humanitarian aid for approximately 6.5 million Palestinians.

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