Foreign Ministry completes its review of Finland’s development cooperation in Palestine

A review by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs shows that Finland’s development cooperation appropriations for Palestine have not been misdirected to terrorist organisations.

Finland's development cooperation in the Palestinian Territory promotes equal and high-quality education. Photo: Mosadaq Muhannad Qadan, Studio Havana.

The operating environment for development cooperation in Palestine has dramatically changed after the attack on Israel by the terrorist organisation Hamas on 7 October 2023 and the ensuing war in the Gaza Strip. Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs responded to this change by reviewing its development cooperation in Palestine. The review covers projects included in Finland’s Country Programme for Development Cooperation in Palestine and projects by civil society organisations that receive support from the Foreign Ministry. The projects have been active in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Humanitarian assistance is outside the scope of the review.

The objective of the review was two-fold: ensure that no development cooperation funds are misdirected to terrorist organisations and assess the efficiency of risk management mechanisms in the Country Programme and in development cooperation projects in view of the changed operating environment. The Foreign Ministry examined all development cooperation projects carried out in 2023 and their risk management mechanisms.
While development cooperation always involves some risk, the review concluded that Finland’s support to Palestine has not been misdirected to terrorist organisations.

“The situation in the Middle East has changed dramatically. It is important to ensure that Finland’s support to the region reaches those who need it in accordance with the project objectives,” says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio.

The review recommends that Finland continue supporting Palestine in the changed situation. However, it also recommends that Finland introduce new protective and adaptive measures into the terms of project contracts. For example, an obligation to comply with UN and EU sanctions and a prohibition of incitement against a population group should be added to the Ministry’s agreements with civil society organisations.

“Antisemitism will not be tolerated in any teaching supported with Finland’s development cooperation funds. We will constantly monitor the appropriateness of teaching,” Minister Tavio says.

Since the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to operate in the Gaza Strip can only be assessed at a later date, the adaptive measures recommended for projects active in Gaza involve first and foremost risk management planning and, where necessary, redirecting of activities to other areas, such as the West Bank.

Finland’s projects in the Palestinian territory are collaborations with other donors and international organisations. The Foreign Ministry also worked in close cooperation with other donors in preparing the review.