January 7, 2022

Palestinian agricultural NGO says it was shocked and saddened by the Dutch government decision to end funding

categories : government

RAMALLAH, Thursday, January 6, 2022 (WAFA) - The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) said it was shocked and saddened by the decision of the Dutch government to end its funding for the Palestinian agricultural non-governmental organizations, stressing that with this fateful decision, the Dutch government is not just abandoning UAWC, but Palestinian civil society at large.

UAWC said in a statement responding to a decision by the Dutch government to suspend its funding that this is the first time a government ends its funding for Palestinian civil society based on 'political conditionality.'

'By doing so, the Netherlands tarnishes its reputation as a reliable donor and its status of a value-based country that hosts and promotes international law,' it said.

'The Dutch Foreign Ministry announced its decision [yesterday] following a funding suspension that lasted 18 months and that caused serious harm to our organization, projects and beneficiaries. It has also subjected UAWC to an external investigation, which has burdened our organization throughout 2021,' said UAWC.

'From the onset, this investigation was politically motivated and responded to pressure of the Israeli government and malign organizations affiliated with it. Whereas the investigation was triggered by one incident, i.e. the arrest of two former employees of UAWC suspected by Israeli authorities of involvement in an attack, the Dutch government resorted to a broad and general research question to identify any ‘possible links between UAWC and the PFLP’,' it added.

'Due to our strategic work to protect Palestinian land threatened by Israeli annexation, UAWC has been a target for many years of Israeli smear campaigns trying to associate our organization with the PFLP.

While we felt concerned the Dutch investigation may feed such campaigns, we decided without delay to cooperate with it, based on our trust in the Dutch government, which has been a leading donor of UAWC since 2013,' said UAWC.

It explained: As confirmed by the Dutch government in its letter to the Dutch parliament, this investigation, conducted by Proximities Risk Consultancy, has: found no financial flows between UAWC and the PFLP; found no indications of organizational unity between UAWC and the PFLP; found no indications that the PFLP directs UAWC; found no links between UAWC and the armed wing of the PFLP; and found no indications that board and staff members have used their position at UAWC for terrorist purposes.

In addition, the Dutch Foreign Ministry determined that Proximities’ research provides no basis to conclude that UAWC has any organizational links with the PFLP.

'All of these findings reflect UAWC’s status and existence as an independent organization, which has no political or religious affiliation with any party or political organization,' it said.

'It is shocking and deeply troubling that the Dutch government nevertheless decided to end its funding for UAWC,' it stressed.

It expressed concern that the Israeli government will seize the decision to further escalate its all-out attack on Palestinian civil society, following its designation last October of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations.

'More specifically, the decision legitimizes and encourages the Israeli tactic of attacking Palestinian NGOs through alleged political affiliations of their board and staff members. All of this is diverting international attention from Israel’s theft and confiscation of more Palestinian land and its brutal suppression of the Palestinian people living under military occupation,' it said, adding, 'We will consider legal steps to challenge today’s harmful and unfair decision by the Dutch government, which lacks valid grounds.'

UAWC said that at this critical hour, 'we call on other donors to maintain and increase their support for UAWC and all Palestinian civil society organizations. Don’t abandon us.'

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