The National Jewish Assembly (NJA) is deeply disappointed by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) refusal to disclose and publish documents pertaining to the auditing of British aid provided to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The request for transparency was made in good faith by We Believe in Israel and B’nai B’rith UK, with the objective of ensuring that British taxpayer funds do not support Palestinian terrorism. Specifically, the request aimed to examine the notorious “Pay for Slay” scheme, in which the Palestinian Authority incentivises terrorism by providing salaries to convicted terrorists or their families, which only serves to encourage and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
Regrettably, the FCDO has justified its refusal by claiming that the disclosure of audit reports could potentially harm the bilateral relationship between the UK and Palestine. While recognising the importance of maintaining diplomatic ties, the NJA believes that transparency and accountability are equally essential, and that such a relationship should not come at the expense of UK taxpayer funding of Palestinian terrorism. The refusal to disclose this information raises concerns about the integrity of foreign aid distribution, especially concerning the Palestinian Authority.
The NJA further believes that the FCDO’s suggestion that the presence of third-party personal data prevented publication is highly questionable, as such content can easily be redacted to protect privacy, and could therefore be provided.
The NJA supports We Believe in Israel and B’nai B’rith UK in their pursuit of transparency and accountability. It is disappointing to see the FCDO deviate from the precedent set by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2019 when similar documents were released upon request by UK Lawyers for Israel.
Transparency in the distribution of foreign aid is crucial to ensure that British taxpayers’ money is not inadvertently supporting terrorism. The NJA calls on the FCDO to reconsider its decision, fulfill its obligation to provide the requested documents, and demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability.