Statement by UAWC after Dutch government announces review

Statement by UAWC after Dutch government announces review


Statement by UAWC after Dutch government announces review 

22 July 2020

 For many years, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) has been attacked by the Israeli government and right-wing organization affiliated with it. Most of our projects are in “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, where we help vulnerable communities hold on to their land. The Israeli government has built illegal settlements in this area and wants to annex it. This is the key reason why we are attacked.

 We have been exposed to toxic smear campaigns in an attempt to intimidate our donors and stop their funding. During the past years, several donor governments have launched reviews into recurring allegations that UAWC is linked to the PFLP. Each time, such allegations were proven to be false.

 UAWC is an independent organization, which has no political or religious affiliation with any party or political organization. It is governed by a set of regulations, by-laws, policies, systems and procedures, which meet international best standards and good practices. International donors and NGOs attest to UAWC’s full compliance, accountability and transparency.

 One of our long-time donors is the Dutch government. We are most grateful for the support we have been receiving from the Netherlands. This has improved the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinian families depending on agriculture.

 On 20 July 2020, the Dutch government announced it is launching its own review into alleged links between UAWC and the PFLP. This review was triggered by the arrest last year of two former employees of UAWC, suspected by Israeli authorities of involvement in an attack near a settlement.

 During interrogation and detention, both men have been denied their right to humane treatment. One was tortured so severely that Amnesty International released a statement stressing torture is absolutely prohibited under international treaties. Four UN human rights experts also issued a statement, calling on Israel “to ensure a prompt and impartial criminal investigation”.

 In line with UAWC’s general policy preserving the independence of our organization, our employees may not be politically active. Nevertheless, the arrest of our former employees unleashed an unprecedented incitement and defunding campaign against UAWC itself.

We await the review by the Dutch government with confidence and stand ready to cooperate with it, as we have done before. In the context of this review, we expect the Dutch government to pay due attention to the torture of our former employees.

We are looking forward to the resumption of Dutch funding and urge our other donors to maintain their support, which is essential to UAWC’s financial and organizational sustainability. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rely on us for critical support.

 We call on the donor community and the international community at large not to be carried away by campaigns designed to uproot, marginalize and dispossess the Palestinian people, which have been under Israeli military occupation for 53 years and are facing the grave threat of annexation.