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Title: Accountability: A Lingering Dilemma for Palestinian NGOs
Authors: Awashra, Raed
Awashreh, Majida
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: There is a growing concern from both the public and researchers regarding the accountability of Palestinian non-governmental organizations, (PNGOs) in the occupied Palestinian territories1 (Hanafi and Tabar, 2005; Songco et al., 2006). The concern is invoked mainly by questioning what motivated the creation of PNGOs which essentially filters down to three factors: personal motives of individual founding members, their relationships to political factions, and the way these organizations would be used to support the factions‟ agenda and popularity (Awashra, 2011). The mushrooming of PNGOs in the West Bank, from a mere 210 in 1987 (Horani, 1988) to 2319 in 2010 (Palestinian Authority Ministry of Interior Affairs Record, 2011), has raised the doubts about the impact of PNGOs‟ work, and the role played by the donors and their agendas (Songco et al., 2006). In addition, NGOs face criticism from the public and researchers on the ground of their neglect to responding to the needs and priorities of the general public and local communities (Hanafi and Tabar, 2005; Jad, 2007; Songco et al., 2006). According to the Charitable and Community Organizations Law No. 1 of 2000, issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA), PNGOs exist to service the public and the groups they represent (that is, women, youth, workers, students, disabled, etc.) in various fields (health, social welfare, education, cultural, human rights, and participation in public policy). In addition, NGOs should contribute in the Palestinian struggle for achieving the liberation of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPT) and other national goals by supporting the steadfastness of the public (Hanafi and Tabar, 2005). Assistance public steadfastness mainly sticks on their lands via different tools: reclamation of their lands, providing services according to their needs, enhancing their national identity and solidarity, mobilizing people for resisting the occupation or whatever strategies people have or might choose. PNGOs‟ accountability and priorities have been redefined in the aftermath of Oslo Accords and PA creation in 1994 in which donors classified the oPT as a post conflict zone. This development has had an impact on PNGOs‟ roles and activities including their contribution to „human development‟ through media, networking, advocacy and other activities that seek to influence public opinion and re-shape public policies (Ashrawi, 2009). Current role of donors is working within the sphere of the occupation, to keep oPT under the sovereignty of the occupation. So, the funded activities in the non-profit sectors are basically serving western political agendas in protecting Israeli interests and diverting the focus of the Palestinian leadership, organizations and people from fighting to befriend the Israeli occupation (Nakhleh, 2011; Hamdan, 2010). Donors‟ projects include promoting economic collaboration, and working with occupation authority to make several military checks point permanent. They divided the West Bank into several parts, funded substitute roads for Palestinians and kept roads for colony settles in the West Bank (Hamdan, 2010). PNGOs‟ projects that focus on women, gender, seminars, workshops, dialogue do not help Palestinians to free their lands and build their independent state. This is to say that PNGOs‟ funded projects do not help in achieving Palestinian national goals (Hanafi and Taber, 2005). Moreover, PA and PNGOs behave as if an independent, sovereign Palestinian state actually exists; despite the fact that the Israeli occupation is still present and in control of almost all the territory and aspect of life in the oPT. It is no secret that donors‟ operations must be authorized by the Israeli to the point where many donors‟ projects are indefinitely halted or prevented in certain Palestinians areas (for example areas C and Jerusalem2 ) (United Nation- Security Conical. 2012; The UN Refugee Agency, 2012). Donors‟ agencies usually have no other choice but to comply with the Israeli orders, and curtail Palestinian NGOs activities to suit the Israeli interests. PNGOs become more dependent on foreign aid, as more than 78.3% of them depend on foreign donor compared to those depending on income generation activities or local donations, of about 12.4% and 5.3%, respectively (De Voir and Tartir, 2009). This article argues that due to financial need PNGOs are likely to follow the political motives of their donors. Our findings suggest that PNGOs have grown increasingly accountable to their donors and to PA than to their constituencies, the communities in general or to the Palestinian national goals. Often times, researchers focus more on the examination of PNGOs‟ accountability to PA from a strictly legal point of view but they fail to investigate their accountability to the public or governing bodies (Al-Moaqat, 2007). Researchers also neglect to discuss the link between NGOs‟ accountability and their sense of identity, vision and legitimacy or to address the link between PNGOs missions and the actualization of Palestinian national goals (Al-Moaqat, 2007)
Description: Public Administration Awashreh,Majida:
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