UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Sweden terminates funding of Health Work Committees

Sweden’s  Consulate General in Jerusalem has confirmed to UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) that the Swedish government’s international development agency (Sida) is not planning further funding of the Palestinian NGO, the Health Work Committees (HWC).  Sweden had been funding HWC to run a 31.5 million Swedish kroner sexual health project in the Palestinian Territories from 2017 to 2020.

Photo: Norrström, Stockholm  by Arild Vågen Wiki Commons

Sida also funded HWC to run a women’s sexual health programme, via another Swedish organisation, Individuell Manniskohjalp , whose budget between 2015 and 2018 was around 2.8 million Swedish kroner.

In October UKLFI wrote to  Sida, pointing out that HWC had been designated by Israel’s Defence Minister as an unauthorised association since 18 June 2015 and that HWC’s financial and administrative director had been arrested in October 2019 and indicted on charges including premeditated attempts to cause death.  UKLFI also sent a dossier of information showing various connections between HWC and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated as a terrorist organisation in the US, EU and elsewhere.

UKLFI asked Sida whether it was planning further funding of HWC and if so to confirm that that it would terminate any such arrangement in the light of the unsuitability of HWC as a partner.

HWC’s financial and administrative director, Mr Walid Hanatsheh AKA Walid Abu Ras, was arrested in October 2019 and indicted on a number of charges including multiple counts of premeditated attempts to cause death. These include:

  • involvement in shooting attacks against civilian buses and private vehicles, as well as the 23 August 2019 bomb attack in which Rina Shnerb was murdered;

  • membership in an illegal organization;

  • holding a position in an illegal organization,

  • possession of weapons, including assault rifles and

  • weapons trafficking.

Mr Hanatsheh, who has been HWC’s financial director since at least 2012, had been arrested many times previously.

Caroline Turner,  director of UKLFI commented: “We are pleased that the Swedish Consulate has now confirmed that the Swedish government’s international development agency does not plan further funding of HWC. We hope that it will continue funding projects in the Palestinian territories, but via less problematic NGOs.”