No inappropriate or biased distribution of aid
The Charity Commission report at a glance:
- Interpal is cleared of any bias in its work and aid delivery
- Interpal is cleared of the accusation of carrying out non-charitable work
- Interpal's trustees are cleared of any links to terrorist organisations or activities
- Interpal's charitable partners are free from any allegations made against them by the BBC Panorama programme and the Israeli Government
- The Charity Commission rejects all allegations made and evidence brought against Interpal by the BBC Panorama programme and The Israeli Government
- The American administration failed for the second time to provide the Charity Commission with any credible evidence against Interpal
- Interpal is free to continue its charitable work on behalf of needy Palestinians
Ibrahim Hewitt, Chairman of Interpal, the British charity which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, has stated that "Interpal has been vindicated" by the report of the Charity Commission inquiry into Interpal, published today, Friday 27 February.
This is the third Charity Commission inquiry into Interpal in 13 years. In each case allegations and accusations made against the charity have been unproven.
The inquiry found that “there has been nothing brought to the inquiry's attention that suggests that the charity's funding has been siphoned off for inappropriate or non-charitable purposes. The report goes on to say that "Interpal did maintain clear financial audit trails in their delivery of aid for humanitarian purposes". Moreover, "allegations of bias in the distribution of aid were unfounded".
"The charity is entitled to operate and to operate specifically in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and is entitled to continue to do so," the Charity Commission states.
"The inquiry was triggered by a BBC Panorama programme in July 2006 which claimed that we had links with organisations promoting terrorism," says Ibrahim Hewitt. "The broadcast was totally irresponsible. Now, after a most rigorous process, these accusations have been refuted by the inquiry. We only have one objective – to help the suffering people of Palestine, whose lives have been made even more desperate by the recent, violent Israeli aggression. This is a time when the humanitarian situation is at its worst. Seventy percent of the Palestinian population are dependent on outside aid".
The report makes clear that "unprompted" the Israeli Government had lobbied the inquiry in relation to its concerns about Interpal. However, the "evidence"produced by the Israelis was never identified to Interpal and "did not reach the standard of proof required under UK civil law".
"Given the obvious collaboration between the Israelis and Panorama, it is hard not to conclude that we are the target of an ongoing and concerted political campaign designed to bring a halt to our humanitarian work in the region," comments Ibrahim Hewitt. "We fully understand the pressure to which the Charity Commission itself has been subjected".
Other areas covered by the report included the relationship between Interpal and the Union for Good and whether Dr Essam Mustafa, Vice Chairman of Interpal and General Secretary of the Union for Good "had any links to terrorist organisations", an accusation made against Dr Mustafa by Panorama.
The Charity Commission found that "concerns about Dr Mustafa's suitability to act in the capacity of trustee of the Charity were not substantiated as the evidence before the Inquiry did not indicate links between Dr Mustafa and terrorist activities".
While Interpal respects the views of the Charity Commission, it does take issue with the Charity Commission's comments on the relationship between Interpal and Union for Good, an international coalition of charities and individuals carrying out fundraising and humanitarian activities for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Last year the Union for Good co-ordinated the delivery of $25 million of humanitarian aid for occupied Palestine. Interpal would like the Charity Commission to revisit this issue.
The US Government, at the request of the Israeli Government, declared Interpal to be a "special designated global terrorist entity" in August 2003, for allegedly supporting the political and militant activities of Hamas. Despite being asked at that time by the Charity Commission to provide evidence supporting this decision, the US authorities failed to do so. Similarly they failed to respond to the latest inquiry. There is, of course, no legal or evidential basis for this designation, something that Interpal believes is proven by the lack of any credible response from the US Treasury.
"Interpal has collaborated fully with the Charity Commission during the inquiry," says Ibrahim Hewitt. "We note that the Commission has also made suggestions to improve some of our procedures. We are, and always have been, ready to implement Charity Commission guidance".
Interpal is a non-political, non-profit making British charity that works with international funding partners and partners on the ground to provide relief and development aid to Palestinians in need, mainly in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan.
Interpal seeks to help Palestinians overcome the harsh conditions they face resulting from over 60 years of suffering and occupation by:
- providing them with humanitarian aid, emergency aid and protection from the elements
- promoting good health within their communities
- assisting them in the advancement of education
- providing them with the necessary social welfare facilities and services