Amsterdam (QNN)- The Dutch government on Wednesday formally ended its funding to one of six Palestinian civil society organizations that were controversially outlawed by ‘Israel’ in 2021.
“The Netherlands will no longer fund the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, or transfer the organization the last tranche of an already budgeted Dutch grant,” two Dutch ministers wrote in a joint letter.
On 19 October 2021, Israeli War Minister, Benny Gantz, designated six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism (Anti-Terror) Law (2016).
The Israeli War Minister office claimed that the six groups were “part of a network of organisations operating undercover in the international arena” on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian resistance group, which was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 by the US State Department.
The six groups are: Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
The Israeli military commander also outlawed all six groups under the 1945 Emergency (Defense) Regulations, declaring them “unlawful associations”.
Several UN human rights experts, civil society and development organizations, academics and more from around the world have condemned, over the past months, Israel’s designations, standing in solidarity with the six Palestinian groups and increasing their support for the Palestinian cause.
The Dutch government’s review found no evidence that the UAWC had done so.
“The external review shows that no evidence has been found of financial flows between the UAWC and the PFLP. Nor has any proof been found of organization unity between the UAWC and the PFLP or of the PFLP’s providing direction to the UAWC,” wrote Foreign Minister Ben Knapen and Foreign Trade Minister Tom de Brujin.
The external investigators did, however, find some overlap between the two organizations’ membership.
“There were ties at the individual level between UAWC staff and board members and the PFLP for some considerable time. The great number of UAWC board members with roles in both organizations gives particular cause for concern,” the two Dutch ministers wrote.
The external investigators hired by the Dutch government determined that the UAWC was likely unaware of members’ political affiliation.
But in their letter, the Dutch diplomats said it was “reasonable to assume” that the organization knew of board members’ PFLP ties.
The Netherlands had already suspended its funding for the nonprofit in July 2020 after two UAWC employees were arrested by ‘Israel’ for alleged involvement in a bomb explosion near an Israeli settlement. Both Abed al-Razeq Farraj (57) and Samer Al-Arbid (45) have suffered physical and psychological torture during interrogation.
The investigation by the Dutch determined that their funding had helped pay for the two employees’ salaries, although neither had managed Dutch-backed development projects.
The UAWC is considered as one of the largest agricultural development institutions in Palestine as it was established in 1986 by a group of agronomists. When established, UAWC depended on volunteers completely and formed agricultural committees in the West Bank and Gaza to set the priorities of farmers and help the Union in implementing its programs and community activities. According to its director, some 25,000 Palestinian families benefit from the group’s work.