To the 36 MEPs signatories of the letter concerning the situation of Palestinian civil society and
human rights organisations
Dear Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
I would like to thank you for your letter of 16 December 2021.
Civil society is an essential contributor to good governance and sustainable development in Israel,
Palestine and elsewhere in the world. A thriving civil society and respect for fundamental freedoms
are cornerstones of open democracies.
The EU is proud of its support to Palestinian civil society organisations that have always been an
important element of our support for the two state solution. The EU will continue to support civil
society organisations and human rights defenders that have a role to play in promoting international
law, human rights, and democratic values.
The EU took note of the designation by Israel’s Ministry of Defence of six Palestinian organisations,
some of which are implementing activities financed by the EU or by its Member States. We take the
allegations seriously and are in touch with Israeli authorities to seek clarifications. Past allegations of
the misuse of EU funds have not been substantiated.
Representatives of a number of the referenced NGOs met with EU officials in Brussels in the past
weeks to present their position on the conditions for civil society in the occupied Palestinian territory.
On the allegations of misuse of surveillance technology, the EU is closely following the findings
regarding the use of the Pegasus software for surveillance purposes. While surveillance technologies,
where used ethically and in accordance with law, can be effective law enforcement tools, the EU is
deeply concerned about the misuse of spyware against human rights defenders, journalists and
politicians. The EU calls on all states to implement legislation and safeguards to protect people from
unlawful or unnecessary surveillance, including any arbitrary or mass surveillance. Any such policies
have to be fully in line with international human rights law.
Josep Borrell Fontelles
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