Edisappointment, sometimes also incomprehension and anger. These are widespread reactions in Palestinian civil society these weeks when it comes to Germany. The reason is that after the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th, the federal government sided closely with Israel – but in the opinion of many Palestinians, it took a one-sided position and remained silent about Israeli crimes in the Gaza war.
The dissatisfaction is directed even more specifically at the institutions of German development cooperation (DC). The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) announced just a few weeks ago that funding would be resumed. Minister Svenja Schulze suspended it immediately after October 7th to ensure that German funds did not benefit Hamas or other terrorist groups. The review revealed no evidence of misuse, it said in a press release on December 13th. The “BMZ’s strict control mechanisms” have “proven to be robust”.
The self-praise was only part of the truth. As research by the FAZ has shown, an important part of the cooperation with Palestinian civil society was simply cut off by the BMZ and the Foreign Office. The ministries have thus fulfilled an Israeli wish that has been expressed for a long time, which has since led to a conflict within the federal government. Now this conflict appears to have been resolved.
This emerges from the “Report on the review and approval process of the BMZ portfolio for the Palestinian territories” dated December 11th. The document, which has been declared classified and is available to the FAZ, documents the review of almost 160 development cooperation projects. They were partly financed through bilateral government funding, partly through so-called implementing organizations – German non-governmental organizations and German political foundations.
Irritation among the German implementing organizations
The report states that “even after further intensive examination, no case of abuse was identified.” This was confirmed by the Federal Intelligence Service, among others. Nevertheless, a few pages later it states categorically: “New cooperation with the six non-governmental organizations listed as terrorist by Israel (…) will no longer be approved. In the case of ongoing collaborations (…), the BMZ is working through dialogue to ensure that the sponsors immediately discontinue them before the end of the term.”
In concrete terms, this means that some of the most important civil society organizations in Palestine will be excluded from funding. An employee of a German organization that works in the area of development cooperation says: “We believe that ending partnerships with human rights organizations in a phase of increased human rights violations is very dangerous. It is also detrimental to Germany’s image.”