Palestinian NGO labelled 'terrorist organisation' by Israel loses Dutch funding
The Dutch government announced on Wednesday that it will stop funding the Ramallah-based Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) NGO, saying that some of its members were connected to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The PFLP is considered by both the US and the EU as a terrorist organisation.
The UAWC is one of six Palestinian NGOs that were recently added by Israel to its list of terrorist organisations amid condemnation by the Palestinian Authority.
The UAWC expressed ‘sorrow’ and ‘concern’ at the decision taken by the Netherlands, while Israel welcomed the announcement.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry statement called the Union of Agricultural Work Committees “an organic part of the PFLP terrorist organisation”.
The Dutch government said in a statement to parliament that “individual connections between the UAWC and the PFLP and the lack of clarity by the UAWC in this matter… is sufficient cause for us to de-fund the UAWC” despite previously rejecting Israeli claims about the group in an external review undertaken by Netherlands-based Proximities Risk Consultancy group.
A review commissioned by the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation found no organisational or financial links between UAWC and the PFLP but the government used this same review as justification for its final decision to suspend funding.
West Bank explosions
In September 2019, Israeli forces arrested two men suspected of involvement in an explosion which took place in the West Bank, and resulted in the death of a 17-year old Israeli girl. The attack was attributed to the PFLP, and those arrested were workers in the UAWC.
After their arrest the United Agricultural Workers Committees dismissed both workers and informed the Dutch authorities, reassuring them that neither of them had undertaken any work funded with Dutch money.
However the Dutch government said that the accused workers had been partially paid by financial support provided by the Netherlands and suspended funding on this basis.
Dutch authorities said that the review established ‘personal ties’ between members and officials in both organisations. The Dutch government also expressed “specific fears” at the large number of high-ranking officials within the UAWC administration that have close links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In response, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees expressed their anger and dismay at the announcement, stating that “from its inception, this decision has been politically motivated… the investigation has been characterized by a stunning lack of transparency”.
Despite the fact that the investigation has shown NO organizational ties and NO financial flow from UAWC to PFLP or even any misuse of the funds from the Dutch government, the Dutch MFA has still decided to cut its funding, abandoning Palestinian CSOs at a critical time.— Union of Agricultural Work Committees (@UAWC1986) January 6, 2022
“With this fateful decision, the Dutch government is not just abandoning UAWC, but Palestinian civil society at large”, they said, saying that they will consider legal avenues to challenge the Dutch government’s decision.