Australia withdraws funds to Palestinian program

July 3, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced that the Australian Government has discontinued funding to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program.

Julie Bishop

The $10million package is to be redirected to other programs aiding the Palestinians.

In a prepared statement Julie Bishop said: “I wrote to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on 29 May, to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.

I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended. However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to activities that Australia would never support.

Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organisation to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Australian Government remains committed to supporting vulnerable Palestinians with access to basic services, including health care, food, water, improved sanitation and shelter. We will now direct our $10 million allocation to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories which supports these services.

The United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund helps 1.9 million people. Approximately 75 per cent of its funding will be spent in Gaza where the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

The Australian Government has informed the PA and the World Bank of our decision.”

Dr Danny Lamm, president of The Zionist Federation of Australia sad: “The ZFA welcomes the decision by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and the Australian Government to cease funding of the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program because “opportunity for it to use its own budget to activities that Australia would never support”.

We wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that “any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organisation to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Just last week FM Bishop announced that there would be a full audit of Australian government funding of another organisation – Union Aid Abroad – to ensure there is no misuse of funds.

At the time, President of the ZFA Dr. Danny Lamm AM said, “The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes the Foreign Minister’s decision and the statement of Senator Eric Zebtz on the issue of channeling taxpayer funds into organisations that support Palestinian terrorist groups. As I have stated previously, our government must, as a matter of urgency, cease all funding of the Palestinian Authority until a full audit is completed.”

In light of the most recent government decision, Dr Lamm AM said, “we take this as a strong sign that the Government is taking this issue very seriously and will take immediate action when the situation arises.”

AIJAC  said this appears to be a sensible and prudent step to ensure that Australian taxpayer funds are not misused, and do not inadvertently facilitate Palestinian terrorism.

AIJAC supports Australian aid to the Palestinians, which can also help contribute to a two-state resolution, the bipartisan goal of all recent Australian governments. However, such aid becomes counterproductive if some of it unintentionally provides support for terrorist groups or incentivizes terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, new revelations that a leader of the widely-banned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group named Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine was apparently an employee of a program being paid for, in part, with Australian taxpayer dollars dispersed through the trade union aid agency APHEDA, has only re-emphasized the need for close and constant scrutiny, and rigorous accountability, in ongoing  Australian aid to the Palestinians.

AIJAC is grateful to Ms. Bishop and the government for their efforts to ensure Australian aid to the Palestinians both serves Australia’s national interests and maximises the humanitarian benefits to those in need, and for their willingness take seriously AIJAC’s long-standing concerns about elements of that aid.

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