UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Dutch MPs press Netherlands Government over Funding of UAWC

Six Dutch MPs from 5 different political parties are pressing the Dutch government to respond to questions originally raised by UK Lawyers for Israel over a year ago, regarding their funding of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), a Palestinian NGO.   They want to know  why the Dutch government failed to investigate and continued to fund the  Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) despite being warned by UKLFI of its terror links.

photo Wiki Commons

Last week the Dutch Government suspended  payments to the UAWC when it emerged that they had been partially paying salaries of two UAWC employees who were alleged members of the PFLP and had now been arrested in connection with the murder of 17 year old Rina Shnerb last August 2019.

Now there have been further questions from member of Parliament Voordewind (ChristenUnie), Weverling (VVD), Van der Staaij (SGP) and De Roon (PVV) to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation about why they continued to fund the UAWC, given the information they had received about its terrorist links.

Their questions, submitted on 22 July 2020 were:

  1. Why did you decide only this month to suspend funding from the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) when you already heard from this organization in August 2019 that two of their employees suspected of involvement in a deadly terrorist attack?

  2. How did you check the information that the UK Lawyers for Israel sent you in May 2019, which already pointed out that two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were also working for the UAWC? ? Why did the information provided by this organization not lead to a different assessment, as you write in the reply to this organisation’s letter?

  3. What have you done with the information from NGO Monitor from January this year showing the links between the UAWC and the PFLP based on various sources?

  4. How can it be that you only found out when answering the written questions of members Van der Staaij, De Roon and Voordewind 1) that the suspect employees were paid salary with the help of Dutch financing and even cards from have the Dutch representation in Ramallah at their disposal?

  5. Do you agree that this state of affairs and the information cited above does not give the impression that the UAWC has been thoroughly investigated before it has been decided to support this organization or to continue this support?

  6. Do you remember responding to previous Parliamentary questions about a PFLP member who worked at the Ma’an Development Center that you do not have independent information here? 2) Are you still prepared to have an independent investigation into this, and to take any measures and have it re-examined every quarter? If not, why not?

  7. As a result of this case, will you re-examine the selection and monitoring of all organizations to which the Netherlands provides support, including issuing passes to employees?

  8. Do you agree that this is an example that funding development cooperation organizations that are also active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement (which the government is opposed to) is a problem because is not in full control of where the money is going?

  9. How can you be sure that Dutch money is not used for BDS when financing these kinds of foreign organizations?

  10. Do you agree that the Netherlands should reconsider funding for these types of organizations because there is no complete certainty that no money will go to BDS?

  11. Please provide an overview of all information you have received about UAWC’s possible involvement in PFLP and how you have used it in the various decisions to seek or intensify cooperation with UAWC, including those identified in the do the aforementioned decisions answer in 2007, 2013 and 2017?

  12. Can you answer these questions individually without referring to answers to other questions?

The following day, on July 23, 2020,  two more Dutch MPs,  Van Helvert and Omtzigt (both CDA) put supplementary questions to the ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation about the information that the Dutch government had about the involvement of UAWC employees paid by the Netherlands in the terrorist organization PFLP and that they are suspected of a terrorist attack, which killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb.

Their questions were:

  1. Can you forward the entire correspondence between UK Lawyers for Israel and the Dutch government to the House?

  2. With the knowledge of today, have you answered some of their questions incompletely? If so, which signals were not properly addressed?

  3. On what date did the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) inform the Dutch representation that two of its employees had been arrested as a terrorism suspect?

  4. When did UAWC terminate the salaries of these two employees?

  5. How long (from which date to which date) was money paid to these two employees? And how much salary is involved?

  6. On what date was it clear to the Netherlands that the two employees were partly paid with Dutch tax money?

  7. How much money would UAWC receive in subsidies from the Netherlands this year and how much has already been transferred? And on what dates did that happen?

  8. Can you submit the last two audits of UAWC to the House, as well as all annual accounts or documents with which the Dutch subsidy to UAWC is justified over the years 2017-2020?

  9. Do you consider control of substantial grants to UAWC sufficient in recent years?

  10. Who will now conduct research and what is the research assignment?

  11. Can you answer these questions one by one, carefully and within three weeks?

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “We are pleased that members of the Dutch Parliament are now calling the Dutch government to account for ignoring the legitimate concerns we raised  and we look forward to receiving the Dutch responses.”