One point five billion Swedish kroner. That is the sum the Swedish government has committed in aid to Palestine for 2015-2019. Currently in the midst of a Palestinian terror campaign against Israel which brutally has stolen the lives of many innocent people, there are 1.5 billion reasons to ask some very important questions about the terms for receiving this aid. A few of those questions were discussed in Sweden’s Parliament earlier today.
Sweden is and has been one of the largest financial aid contributors to Palestine for many years. In October 2014 the Swedish government, led by the newly elected Prime Minister Löfven, adopted a new strategy for ‘development cooperation’ in Palestine. The strategy covers three areas: i) democracy, human rights and gender equality; ii) environment, climate change and disaster preparedness; and iii) private sector development.
Moreover, Sweden has long been one of the five largest donors of core support to UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, with aid in 2015 amounting to 300 million SEK, in addition to the funds in the 1.5 billion aid package.
How is all this money actually used? During the official visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Sweden in February 2014 a cooperation agreement between Palestine and Sweden was signed. The question is what principles Sweden is demanding Palestine to live up to, and what criteria/terms/conditions were introduced for aid to be paid. How is the use of Swedish tax payer money in Palestine monitored? Where is such monitoring reported? Have clear, measurable goals been set up to ensure that the money is used properly and effectively? And if any of the conditions aren’t met, what actions is Sweden taking to rectify the situation, or to put a hold on further funding?
One measure to de-escalate the conflict in Northern Ireland back in the day was to remove indoctrinating texts from teaching materials. The latest report on Palestinian schoolbook indoctrination was revealed by journalist and Palestinian affairs correspondent Gal Berger earlier this week. The report presented evidence that there is no education toward two states in Palestinian textbooks, Israel is consistently being left off maps, Israeli cities are said to be in Palestine, martyrdom is praised, and the Holocaust is not mentioned in over 70 Palestinian Authority textbooks for Grades 1-12.
US Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the following in this matter: “We must stop the propaganda to which Palestinian children are being exposed. That must be a priority for all people who care about children… these children deserves an education that instills respect for life and peace instead of glorifying death and violence… These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination.”
Indoctrinating texts and elements of children’s programs that glorifies martyrdom and that the eradication of Israel is a conscious Palestinian goal in a religious struggle against Israel. Why is Swedish aid to Palestine not conditioned so that it is paid only after they can prove that all such texts and educational goals are fully removed?
Mikael Oscarsson, Swedish MP for the oppositions Christian Democrat Party asked this very question to Foreign Minister Margot Wallström in Parliament on 5 May 2015. The reply, delivered by Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin, in response to the specific issue of Swedish aid and Palestinian education said, “Education is not included as a specific area in the [our] strategy”.
Lövin continued, “The strategy should follow current guidelines for the implementation and monitoring of development cooperation… In addition to this, the government has no plans to impose additional conditions for its implementation.”
Given that President Abbas and other leaders of the Palestinian Authority consistently incite to terror, praise terrorists, call them heroes and reward them and their families with huge amounts of money, one has to wonder how the Swedish government really believes its agreement with Palestine has no link between their aid and funds used to support terrorists and incitement.
It is known that the Palestinian Authority is one of the most corrupt governments on the planet. “The Palestinian Authority (PA), the limited self-governing body in the occupied territories, has been plagued by waste, graft and accusations of both since its inception in 1994…”, according to an article in The Economist a few months ago. Is it then so difficult for Sweden to fathom that maybe, just maybe, their 1.5 billion aid package ends up to support terrorism?
Let’s just make it a whole lot simpler though; as long as Palestine shows no interest in stopping its terror campaign, why is Sweden not stopping its financial support?
Oscarsson pushed the matter further, and sharpened his questions regarding the terms for Swedish aid to Palestine. He specifically requested to know how Swedish funds are used so that 25 Palestinian schools named in honor of terrorists will bring about name changing; how Swedish aid can be conditioned so that payments to terrorists cease; and if in the agreement between the PA and Sweden is any term stipulating that activities funded with Swedish donations may not contribute to incitement, and how it is ensured that this doesn’t happen.
This morning Minister Lövin delivered her reply, emphasizing once again that “support to the education sector or education ministry is not included in the strategy for Palestine decided by the Government… Thus there is no earmarked Swedish aid to the schools the questioner [Oscarsson] mentions here.” By this Lövin made it painstakingly clear that the Swedish Government has no intention of conditioning any of its funding to bring about such a change, letting themselves off the hook to any education related Palestinian matter.
After Oscarsson presented Parliament with multiple examples of inciting quotes from Abbas and other PA officials, Lövin quite shockingly proved how deep the governments unwillingness to deal with this matter is. “I am very worried about us standing like this in Sweden’s Parliament and further putting fuel to the fire, and to polarize this debate. That we are importing this very infected and bloody rhetoric that we absolutely don’t need to devote ourselves to when its about aid policy“, Lövin said.
The Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation believes that “It is through our aid that we have a possibility to reach out. A constant threat to pull back aid is not a way forward.”
And this is the crux of the matter.
Sweden can play a much more serious role in the peace process, through financial incentives, but only if it choses to do so. It is a naive belief to place yourself in a pseudo-reality in which you think that your good intentions and free money will contribute to peace whilst ignoring the incitement of the Palestinian leadership and school system which is cultivating a generation who not only will become terrorist murderers in the future, but already are.
It was a 15-year old Palestinian boy who stabbed Dafna Meir to death inside her home, in front of her own children, just over a month ago. Corruption is ignored as a real factor for the potential misuse of Swedish money, and since the strategy for aid doesn’t include ‘education’, then why not just continue the flow of Swedish tax-payer monies in the hundreds of millions? Because according to Sweden, there is no correlation between its support and the murderous Palestinian incitement machine. The sad truth is unfortunately the opposite. Sweden is, no matter how the government there tries to twist it, financially backing a Palestine where incitement and terror just doesn’t end.