US State Dept. funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters – NGO Monitor

US State Dept. funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters – NGO Monitor

The US State Department is providing over $90,000 in grants to an organization that has expressed support for Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.

The organization, called the Phoenix Center for Research and Field Studies, is listed on as receiving $30,088 for an August 2023-July 2024 project and another $60,000 for a September 2023-August 2024 project.

While the recipient in the two projects is listed as the “Finiq Center for Field Studies and Researches,” NGO Monitor posited that the spelling appears to be a phonetic mistake as the address listed is identical to the Phoenix Center’s address.

The first project is listed as helping develop IT skills and provide networking opportunities with IT employers in Europe and Asia. NGO Monitor noted that the project description appears to be unrelated to the activity of the center and posited that an unrelated grant description was associated with the center.

The second project is listed as helping “Palestinian USG alumni” develop and enhance public speaking, storytelling, and digital networking skills.

The Phoenix Center describes itself as “an independent, non-profit Palestinian institution established within the framework of its responsibility towards Palestinian communities to meet their political, economic, and social needs by providing services that enable them to be empowered at the individual, community, and national levels.”

Phoenix Center’s link to terrorist organizations

NGO Monitor noted that the organization has hosted several conferences and panels expressing support for “armed resistance” against Israel, with several senior members of Palestinian terrorist organizations taking part in the events.

In December 2022, the Phoenix Center discussed “Tactical management and strategic building by the (Palestinian) factions. The approaches of open conflict with the occupation authorities in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Which political agendas are required for the current conflict and its future?”

The center stated that participants in the discussion concluded that “the priorities of future agendas must include the need to reintegrate armed resistance and popular resistance” and that “armed resistance and non-violent resistance…are supposed to be integrated, viewing both as essential tools of the conflict with the occupation.”

In November 2022, the center’s Director of Programs, Salah Abdalati, expressed support for terrorist groups in the West Bank, referring to “the joy created by the phenomena of the Lions’ Den, the [Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s] Jenin battalion and the Nablus Battalion.”

During Operation Shield and Arrow in May, Abdalati wrote on Facebook “Salutations and appreciation to the resistance and especially to its spearhead in this round, the [Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds] Brigades that stood firm and steadfast with the rest of the factions…and was an armor and sword. We will keep up with the evaluations and preparations in order to continue the ongoing struggle and combat the Israeli occupation’s crimes in order to raise its price…by escalating resistance and popular pressure that will lead to a total intifada.”

In August 2022, Abdalati posted that Israel “is the state which most of its citizens have become as the ISIS of this generation…There is no choice but steadfastness and resistance against the occupation, and it is a right and a duty of a nation under occupation…The relationship with the occupation is based on raising its price until it is removed, by all methods of resistance.”

The center also held a workshop titled “Strengthening the concept of civil peace, rule of law and the importance of national dialogue” in a room filled with paraphernalia expressing support for the PFLP, a group recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU. The workshop was funded by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) NGO.

In September 2022, the center discussed “The links between the PA and the occupation – between paralysis and division,” with senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Khader Habib taking part in the discussion.

Habib has repeatedly called for violence against Israelis. In 2019, Habib warned Jewish Israelis to leave Israel, stating in an address aired on Alghad TV that “We will slaughter those who do not leave with our own hands,” according to MEMRI.

In July 2022, the center held a discussion on “The dimensions and repercussions of US President Biden’s visit regarding the Palestinian issue,” with Habib and other senior Islamic Jihad members taking part, including Mohammed Shalah, Ahmed Al-Mudallal, and Khaled Al-Batsh. Senior PFLP member Mohammed Al-Ghoul also took part in the discussion.

NGO Monitor President and founder Prof. Gerald Steinberg stated that “the grants from the State Department and the findings in the report based on open sources reflect another failure in the use of tax dollars to finance Palestinian NGOs. All government funding – especially to organizations operating in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza – must undergo careful and independent due diligence to ensure that it does not go to groups that support violence or those associated with terrorist organizations.”

US House Foreign Affairs Committee discusses NGO Monitor report

US Rep. Tim Burchett responded to the report on Wednesday, posting on X, “The Phoenix Center has received tens of thousands in US dollars and is partnered with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Why are two US-designated terrorist groups receiving money from the @StateDept?”

Burchett mentioned the report during a subcommittee hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee titled “No Incentives for Terrorism: US Implementation of the Taylor Force Act and Efforts to Stop ‘Pay to Slay.'”

Elliott Abrams, former deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, who was serving as a witness at the hearing, stressed that the State Department vets grant recipients by asking security bodies if the recipient is on a list of terrorist groups without investigating on their own if the group is affiliated or supportive of terrorist groups which are on the list.

Abrams added that “the State Department needs to go beyond a cursory check and start doing some elementary research about recipients. For example, what’s on Twitter? What happens when you do an internet search?”

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who was also serving as a witness at the hearing, noted that he has consistently seen organizations affiliated with the PFLP be overlooked. Schanzer added that a bigger focus needs to be placed on smaller terrorist organizations.

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