Ambassadör Bachman kommenterar Ledarsidornas artikel om biståndsorganisationen SIDA och deras tidning OmVärlden

Ambassadör Bachman kommenterar Ledarsidornas artikel om biståndsorganisationen SIDA och deras tidning OmVärlden

Ambassadör Isaac Bachman kommenterar på sin Facebooksida artikeln om Tidningen OmVärlden och SIDA:

Swedish taxpayer money, doesn’t serve the declared policy of the Government with regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

There is an obvious dissonance in between the declared policy and the deeds and facts on the ground.

OmVärlden is a publication so closely tied to the Swedish aid organization SIDA that they do not only own it – they share the same building with it and many of those responsible come directly from being involved in aid-work.

One of Sweden’s top political blogs, Ledarsidorna, shows how Sweden is contributing to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel rather than working for coexistence.

SIDA and the Swedish MFA lets the Swedish population know that their tax money are being used for promoting peace while, in the real world, it is the complete opposite.

Ledarsidorna’s article shows that out of the 24 audited Palestinian organizations that are receiving Swedish taxpayers’ money 18 are against Israel’s existence – 18 of them! And the money paid by Swedish taxpayers – almost 1 billion SEK per year– could surely be used for better things.

The fact that 18 out of 24 organizations that receive aid from Sweden are far from promoting peace, marks the obvious dissonance in between what Sweden declares as policy and the deeds it carries out on the ground.

For the original article in Swedish please click here


Enlish translation of the article:

The newspaper called OmVärlden claims to be an independent newspaper but it is owned by SIDA and large parts of the editorial team are far from being independent. Several people in the team have a background from aid work. The editorial team is part of the Swedish aid industry. The image that OmVärlden depicts gives different angles and stories, but not without leaving large empty gaps in the stories. The reports are not connected to the situation on the ground. OmVärlden’s reports are political voices from the largest party in the Swedish aid industry. Namely SIDA. It is a party that undoubtedly has its own agenda.

In an interview with Johan Schaar, the former Head of Aid for Sweden’s development cooperation in Palestine, about what it is like working with aid in a difficult area of conflict like Palestine these “forgotten stories” become much clearer while it also become apparent that SIDA has taken an active stance in a conflict.

No, it is possible that we do not support schools that are violent. But Schaar is not completely straight in his answers. Sweden supports much more. One particular EU project, in which Sweden has been the driving force, can be claimed to be a prime example of how Swedish aid to Palestine is shaped.

This aid project, which is even a prestigious project as it is about human rights, that Sweden is part of, is a joint EU project with the goal of building a functioning legal system in the Gaza Strip, among other things. This is Hamas Land. Part of this legal system contains a functioning bar association. An association was founded, the Palestinian Bar Association (PBA), with its seat in Gaza. Denmark recently left this project for obvious reasons.

The EU’s and Sweden’s support is basically meant to support the PBA and to improve on the work for the human rights of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians need to build a functioning legal system. There is every reason to tell the tax payers how the construction of this system actually works, which is something that Sweden has been project leading for many years. SIDA has very clearly taken a stance in the conflict by admitting the following:
– The members of the PBA are explicitly forbidden to work with the state of Israel or with Israeli citizens according to article 27 of the PBA rules and regulations.
– Muhammad Halabi, who stabbed two Israelis to death, obtained a degree in Palestinian from the PBA in 2015. Halabi was officially named a “courageous martyr” by the PBA.
– The PBA stated that it is “loyal to Muhammad Halabi”.
– The graduate and election ceremony of the PBA in 2016 was named after Muhammad Halabi in honour for the murders that he carried out.
– The Chairman of the PBA, Hussein Shabaneh, has officially on several occasions let it be known that the PBA will not recognize any Israeli territory between the River of Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.
– The PBA has, since 2013, been given more than 22million EUR to continue developing its business, but also to build a headquarters and courthouses. The reason to why a lawyer’s association would be responsible for the construction of courthouses is something rather strange, but may have some form of logical explanation, such as there not being a formal state, or that President Abbas is not recognized in Gaza where the PBA is being developed. Gaza is “Hamas Land”. Johan Schaar says that Sweden does not support Hamas, despite that fact.

None of this is addressed by OmVärlden, which is SIDA’s own news channel.

This is just another example of how undemanding Swedish aid policies in Palestine are. If it is that Palestine actually exists. The PA, the Palestinian Authority, can’t even define where the borders are. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, has no mandate to negotiate for his people whatsoever. Abbas is now in his twelfth year of a four year mandate period. Abbas refuses time and again to follow his own constitution and has not called for any new elections. SIDA knows that. Neither has the PA ratified the Camp David agreement about a two-state solution. SIDA is very well aware of that when they form their aid.

Sweden has consistently proven to be an ally to Palestinian organisations that, like the PBA, do not recognize Israel’s existence in any way. Of the 24 investigated Palestinian aid recipient organisations that are given Swedish aid (we give around 800million SEK per year), there are 18 that do not see the existence of Israel as desirable. Some want to go further than that – down the path of anti-Semitism and annihilate an entire people, with SIDA’s silent acceptance as it continues to give away Swedish tax money.

The effects of giving aid without demands result in this situation. It leads to aid being given without any demands made in return, and incompetent and disinterested project leaders. The alternatives to it are, God forbid, Swedish aid to the Palestinian Authority being based on anti-Semitic sentiments which seem to have gained a foothold in SIDA. When even liberal Palestinians such as the internationally recognized Palestinian expert and journalist on the conflict Khaled Abu Toameh, who is a Sunni Muslim and has grown up on the West Bank, summarises the path forward in two points:
– The Western World, especially the USA and the EU, must find it in themselves to start making demands of the Palestinian Authority for them to continue to give financial aid. Force the PA to slowly apply democratic reforms and decrease corruption. It may not happen overnight, but slowly and carefully, with a 30 year perspective. “Democratising” the area too quickly may lead to dramatic and unwanted results.
– The Palestinian people must start to be educated for peace and not war.

Toameh’s plea to SIDA is falling on deaf ears. It is not in SIDA’s, to gentle donor, interests. They have clearly proven that they have their own agenda.

SIDA, along with the political leadership at the Swedish MFA, are not interested in creating the conditions that are needed for co-existence. The above results speak for themselves, and the Swedish project manager should be very well aware of what he has achieved. Eighteen of the twenty-four recipient organisations of Swedish tax money want to erase Israel from the map, and that can’t be a mistake but a clear stance of what Sweden is. With, or course, the Foreign Minister’s silent acceptance.

As the Swedish MFA is both an authority as well as a department, and SIDA is a security political tool in the MFA’s toolbox our next Foreign Minister should be prepare the possibilities that exist to regulate in detail SIDA’s business in order to get SIDA to harmonise with the promises of supporting a two-state solution.

An aid culture at a Swedish authority at which the employees, in several cases, have the desirable diplomatic states and who are working against a two-state solution breeds a prolongation of the conflict that is lined with something that is sometimes similar to anti-Semitism, and is not supported by the Swedish tax payers.

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