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Source: European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
25 April 2014

European Endowment for Democracy visits Palestine to identify areas of support


On its first mission to the occupied Palestinian territories, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) met with many civil society actors and activists to identify relevant groups and areas for support. Many donors are already active in Palestine and EED is careful not to duplicate their efforts.

EED also met with the EU office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip and with representatives of the international community, including Mr. Hansi Escobar, the Spanish Consular in Jerusalem and member of EED’s Executive Committee.. Among a number of gaps, EED identified the need to support marginalized communities to increase their voice to better influence public policies and make the authorities accountable.

EED met with many civil society actors, a press release said. “The costs of transporting goods from the West Bank to Gaza are higher than to import them from China,” a Palestinian entrepreneur in the West Bank explained. The network of checkpoints, the separation wall and the need to obtain access permits denies Palestinians the right to freedom of movement. “Israel has not granted me access to Gaza since 2007 and each time I have to enter through Egypt”, a prominent Palestinian politician and leader told EED.

Despite being taxpayers, Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have limited access to basic services and infrastructure, face discrimination and suffer from constant pressure from the Israeli authorities and settlers. They only have limited means to influence public policies and to have their voice heard. An Israeli activist explained the politically complex context: “Palestinian East-Jerusalemites would increase their influence over local politics in Jerusalem, if they were to vote. But they boycott the elections as a sign of protest against the de facto annexation of their land.”

The development of Palestinian democracy also suffers from the deep rifts between Hamas and Fatah. “There is a major leadership crisis and a lack of democratic tradition within the main political formations. They have difficulties accepting the principles of plurality”, stressed a political activist. Interlocutors’ complaints were multi-fold: pressure from local politicians, intimidation by security forces, and a lack of proper consultation and involvement of the population, in particular of the youth. Most emphasized that they had lost faith in the ability of the traditional political formations to implement reforms.

The European Endowment for Democracy assists pro-democratic civil society organisations, movements and individual activists acting in favour of a pluralistic multiparty system regardless of their size or formal status. The EED also provides assistance to young leaders, independent media and journalists, provided that all the beneficiaries adhere to core democratic values and human rights as well as subscribe to principles of non-violence. Women's rights organisations and female activists will be among the recipients of support and gender perspective will be mainstreamed in all decisions and EED-funded actions.

The European Commission funds the project ‘Support to the European Endowment for Democracy’, with the aim of supporting the core functioning of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) in the European Neighbourhood as an actor to foster and encourage democratisation and deep and sustainable democracy in countries in political transition and in societies struggling for democratisation. (EU Neighbourhood Info)

Read more
Press release
European Endowment for Democracy website
Support to the European Endowment for Democracy – fiche
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Palestine


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