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Eastern Jerusalem-based head of the EU’s mission to the 'West Bank' and Gaza Strip, Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, sent a letter to Ramallah-based Palestinian NGO Network March 30 stating that while terrorist groups on black-listed EU lists are not eligible for Euro tax support, “a natural person affiliated to, sympathizing with, or supporting any of the groups mentioned in the EU restrictive lists is not excluded from benefiting from EU-funded activities“.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the EU ambassador to Israel in response to von Burgsdorff opening the door to grantees affiliated with blacklisted groups.

Joining the protest, 35 MEPs belonging to conservative parties wrote to EU Foreign Policy Representative Josep Borrell to ”express our grave concern” about the suggestion that "persons affiliated or sympathizing with terrorist groups may participate in EU activities and receive EU funding. We are dismayed with the suggestion that – after long-standing efforts which led to the introduction of robust assurances that no EU funding may be funnelled to the benefit of terrorist activities, groups, persons or their affiliates – the ‘clarification’ by Mr. Kühn von Burgsdorff provides a roadmap on how to ircumvent EU counter-terrorism financing legislation.”

By doing so, von Burgsdorff’s letter “goes against the word and the spirit of EU law, EU funding requirements” as well as the EU’s fight against terrorism, the letter said. “We strongly support the EU’s commitment to nurture a free, independent and non-violent Palestinian civil society and a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Kühn von Burgsdorff’s letter runs counter to those exact objectives.”

The MEPs called on the EU Foreign Policy Rep “to retract the communication, provide a clarification that no EU funds may be used – either directly or indirectly – to support terrorist activities, groups, persons, or their affiliates, in line with EU law.”

The conservatives in the EU parliament are split into three factions, the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Conservatives and Reformers faction (ECR) and the Identity & Democracy faction.

The letter was initiated by MEPs Charlie Weimers and Anna Fotyga of the ECR faction and it was signed by the follwing MEPs:

Andrius Kubilius, Rasa Juknevičienė, Miriam Lexmann, Ivan Štefanec, Tomáš Zdechovský and Milan Zver of the EPP faction;

Mazaly Aguilar, Derk-Jan Eppink, Karol Karski, Peter Lundgren, Beata Mazurek, Margarita De La Pisa Carrión, Elżbieta Rafalska, Rob Rooken, Robert Roos, Bert-Jan Ruissen, Jessica Stegrud, Hermann Tertsch, Veronika Vrecionová, Alexandr Vondra, Witold Waszczykowski, Anna Zalewska and Kosma Złotowski of the ECR faction;

Christine Anderson, Lars Patrick Berg, Nicolaus Fest, Gianna Gancia, Maximilian Krah, Joachim Kuhs, Jaak Madison and Jörg Meuthen of the I&D faction;

Frédérique Ries, of the Renew Europe faction and independent MEP Dorien Rookmaker.