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Netherlands Defunds Palestinian Group Israel Says is Terror Organization

A Palestinian flag flies over the annual Land Day rally in the Arab city of Arraba, northern Israel, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A Palestinian flag flies over the annual Land Day rally in the Arab city of Arraba, northern Israel, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – The Netherlands says it is cutting funding to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), one of the six Palestinian non-profit groups that Israel declared to be terrorist organizations last year.

Two Dutch politicians announced the decision on Wednesday in a joint letter to parliament after a year-long probe into the organization.

Last October, Israel claimed that the UAWC and five other Palestinian civil society organizations betrayed donors by transferring millions in aid to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a Marxist organization known for planning and carrying out terror attacks. 

The Dutch government’s investigation found no evidence to support Israel’s allegation that the UAWC transferred money to the PFLP. However, it discovered that a dozen UAWC employees held leadership positions with both UAWC and PFLP.

“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 Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Knapen and Foreign Trade Minister Tom de Brujin.

But the pair said the membership overlap between the UAWC and the PFLP is “particularly worrying.”

The Dutch government had already suspended aid to the UAWC in 2020 after two of its leaders were charged with carrying out a bombing attack that killed Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb.

The UAWC said in a statement it was “shocked and saddened” by the decision to pull funding and said the Dutch government’s probe included “multiple factual inaccuracies” and “several mistaken identities.”

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Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the move “important and correct.”

NGO Monitor, an Israeli group that has previously alleged that the UAWC was tied to the PFLP, also applauded the decision and pushed for more action.

“NGO Monitor applauds the Dutch decision. We hope that the belated funding freeze will be followed by serious sanctions, a demand for return of Dutch funds, and the implementation of strict guidelines to prevent future misuse of public money,” NGO Monitor said in a statement.

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