Netherlands ends aid to Palestinian NGO over terrorist ties


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Protesters wave Palestinian flags during a rally to show solidarity with the Palestinians at Dam Square in Amsterdam on May 16, 2021.
Evert Elzinga / ANP / AFPProtesters wave Palestinian flags during a rally to show solidarity with the Palestinians at Dam Square in Amsterdam on May 16, 2021.

Investigation finds 34 employees of agricultural organization with links to PFLP

The Netherlands is pulling funding from a Palestinian NGO after an investigation found links to an EU-designated terrorist group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday.

The defunding decision was made by Tom de Bruijn, minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and Ben Knapen, minister of Foreign Affairs.

The ministers wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament that 34 employees of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) were shown to be active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) from 2007 to 2020.

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The UAWC is one of six Palestinian civil society groups that Israel last year labeled as terrorist organizations over accusations of funneling donor aid to the PFLP.

The Dutch investigation found that 12 UAWC employees held leadership positions with both UAWC and PFLP over the same period.

"The large number of board members of UAWC with a dual mandate is particularly worrying," De Bruijn and Knapen wrote.

The investigation also found links "at an organizational level," although did not find any financial connections or "organizational unity with or control by the PFLP."

Israel in justifying its decision to label UAWC and other Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups, said at the time of the announcement that they "received large sums of money from European countries and international organizations, using a variety of forgery and deceit."

The Netherlands had already temporarily suspended $24.3 million in aid to UAWC in 2020 after two senior UAWC officials were indicted in a bomb attack that killed 17-year-old Israeli girl Rina Shnerb in August 2019. Their salary was partly paid from Dutch aid money to the UAWC.

In statement posted to Twitter, UAWC slammed the decision, saying that they were "shocked and saddened" to hear of the Dutch decision, accusing the government of "not just abandoning UAWC, but Palestinian civil society at large."

Dutch daily newspaper The Telegraph reported that the cabinet wants to start a new land and water program in the West Bank with other Palestinian organizations soon.