May 21, 2020

London - At these critical times, the international platform “iPalestine” continues its advocate for all Palestinian civil society organizations in order to face the challenges imposed by Corona crisis, which formed many problems and difficulties related to the nature of the organizations' functions and the effectiveness of their duties. Although all civil society institutions in all countries around the world are exposed to a range of challenges and difficulties at these times due to the repercussions of Corona pandemic, Palestinian organizations are unilaterally in suffering through the challenges caused by the Israeli occupation. Thus, this has exerted a great pressure on the organizations, affected the services provided by these organizations to face the pandemic, and increased the suffering of Palestinians in healthy and economically terms.

Salah Abdel Ati, President of the International Authority for Supporting Palestinians Right, mentioned to the international platform that the most prominent challenge facing civil society organizations under Corona Pandemic is the lack of funding due to the United States and Israeli procedures, hence, many of the organizations stopped their operations due to the declared state of emergency in the Palestinian territories. Therefore, this has led to a drop in the level of services provided by the organizations, in addition to the fact that Corona pandemic delayed the participation of a large number of Palestinian organizations in international activities that were supposed to be involved in facing the Israeli occupation plans and pursuing the community efforts to serve the Palestinian citizen.

 

Lack of funding ... A growing and prominent challenge

Many Palestinian civil society organizations are suffering from financial distress under Corona crisis and especially after the decline within the funding sources. This crisis is expected to wise within the coming months as the majority of the organizations are not receiving any new funding after the spread of the pandemic. Additionally, the funding that was received before the pandemic has been reprogrammed by a request from the funders to fit the need of confronting the consequences of the pandemic and were directed only for this purpose.

The EU’s recent conditions for providing funding to civil society organizations have exacerbated the crisis though Corona pandemic , as it intends to attach a clause to the funding contracts that committed the organizations not to deal with individuals or groups classified on the EU's list of "terrorism", known as "restrictive list", which has been rejected by majority of organizations. If the EU insists on its new illegal terms, this it will contribute in reducing the services provided by Palestinian organizations in confronting Corona, and may even lead to the closing of many institutions that rely completely on the EU funding, which will exacerbate the suffering of Palestinian as well as losing the ability to face the pandemic and its health and economic impacts.

The international platform expresses its fear of the consequences of the continuation of this challenge in the context of the Corona crisis, which might produce a real tragedy. Therefore, it encourages all civil society organizations to form an emergency committee that represents all organizations to deal with this crisis and its repercussions, as well as organizing a campaign to influence the European Union to retract from its arbitrary conditions, while all organizations should start looking for other international platforms that provide unconditional funding. iPalestine Platform suggests to establish a national fund aimed to provide support and funding to organizations in case of the cutting of the European funding, while the government and Monetary Authority should have a role in supporting that fund, so that organizations can continue their duties in facing the pandemic repercussions.

 

Corona pandemic: unexpected challenges facing civil society

The international platform iPalestine, identified other challenges caused by Corona pandemic, as well as challenges related to lack of funding, which can be summarized in the following points:

  • The suspension of the Palestinian civil society organizations’ pre-planned activities due to the state of emergency imposed on the Palestinian Territories. This comes along with preventing meetings and conferences to reduce mixing, rescheduling activities and directing workers to develop alternative plans in order to contribute in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
  • The lack of financial budget for the organizations to cover the emergency plan.
  • The Increase within the demand of citizens continuously for the services of civil society organizations due to the repercussions of the Corona crisis, which may affect the sustainability of the activities of civil society organizations.
  • Under Corona Pandemic, many civil society organizations became predominantly relief and charitable, while marginalizing other important sectors in local development, for example, and this situation has been imposed by the conditions of the Corona crisis.
  • The closure of Gaza Strip organizations’ bank accounts, as the sector banks suspend the accounts of some different organizations.
  • The continuation of working within the protection and prevention procedures to ensure continued provision of health services, women protection, children, disables and elderly, in addition to provide a psychological and legal counseling support services.
  • The continuation of reaching vulnerable groups and marginalized areas of Palestinian society and helping them facing the effects of the pandemic.

The international platform "iPalestine" calls on all Palestinian civil society organizations to face all the challenges in the context of Corona crisis and make it as an opportunity to establish a true partnership between organizations. Again, in order to overcome this period, all obstacles and challenges, organizations must act collectively. This will help in exchanging the information and reports necessary to face the repercussions of the crisis, and to overcome the financial problems resulting from the reduction of funding from funders.