The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) unites and represents the leading and oldest NGOs in Palestine. One of PNGO’s respected members is the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC).
All PNGO members are now standing in solidarity around UAWC after the Dutch government decided to end its funding for UAWC. This is a shameful decision, directed against Palestinian civil society as a whole, which PNGO condemns in the strongest terms.
As UAWC clarified in its statement on 5 January 2022, the Dutch government defunded UAWC based on an external investigation, which it had launched in response to Israeli smear and pressure campaigns. Confirming UAWC’s organizational independence, this investigation in fact cleared UAWC of Israel’s toxic allegations, by concluding, as also acknowledged by the Dutch government in its letter on 5 January 2022 to the Dutch parliament:
- UAWC has no financial links with the PFLP
- there is no “organizational unity” between UAWC and the PFLP
- UAWC is not directed by the PFLP
- UAWC has no links to the armed wing of the PFLP
- board and staff members did not use their position at UAWC to engage in terrorism
It testifies to bad intentions and a shocking lack of responsibility on the side of the Dutch government, that it defunded UAWC despite these conclusions. The Dutch government did so based on alleged ‘individual links’ of the board and staff members of UAWC with the PFLP. Apart from the question whether such links exist or not, this approach amounts to blunt political conditionality. It infringes on individuals’ political rights and their freedoms of thought and speech and is completely ignorant of UAWC’s responsibilities and obligations as an employer bound by domestic Palestinian law and human rights principles. Such political conditionality is unacceptable and squarely rejected by PNGO.
Palestinian civil society organizations are entitled to operate freely and safely in promoting human rights and providing humanitarian services. In conducting their essential work, they deserve and rely on the support of international partners. By defunding UAWC based on the grounds mentioned above, the Dutch government has breached the trust of Palestinian civil society and harmed its reputation and standing as a reliable donor and partner of human rights defenders.
Adding insult to injury is the timing of UAWC’s defunding – only weeks after the Israeli government designated six leading Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. UAWC is one of these NGOs. Its defunding by the Netherlands based on political grounds encourage the Israeli government to escalate its attack on Palestinian civil society and fuels the smear and incitement campaigns of groups like NGO Monitor, which shield Israel’s occupation and apartheid.
It is disgraceful that a value and law-based country like the Netherlands effectively assists the Israeli government and groups like NGO Monitor in their campaign to disrupt and destroy Palestinian civil society.
Against this background PNGO:
- reiterates its strong condemnation of the defunding of UAWC by the Dutch government
- announces 11 January 2022 as a day of collective protest against the defunding of UAWC
- calls on civil society and solidarity groups worldwide to join and amplify our protest, including by sending protest letters to the Dutch Foreign Ministry (MENA department: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- urges all other donors of UAWC, both governmental and private, to maintain their funding for UAWC
- calls on all Palestinian NGOs not to join or to proceed with projects from which UAWC has been excluded based on political conditionality, in particular, Dutch-funded projects
- requests the donor community to categorically reject and denounce funding based on political conditionality, as well as the use of counter-terrorism laws to repress civil society
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) is composed of the leading and most prominent civil society organizations in Palestine. It is a civic and democratic gathering that strives to support, consolidate and strengthen Palestinian civil society, based on principles of democracy, social justice, and sustainable development. PNGO and its members protect and defend human rights, which are under attack due to Israel’s 54-year old occupation that continues to be the main source of serious violations and deep human suffering of the Palestinian people. These violations include land confiscation, settler violence, discriminatory laws, the confiscation of natural resources, home demolitions, forcible transfer, excessive use of force, targeting farmers including women and children, the detention of children, poisoning by exposure to toxic wastes, forced evictions and displacement, economic deprivation and extreme poverty, lack of freedom of movement, food insecurity, discriminatory enforcement and imposition of a two-tier system of disparate political, legal, social and cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality, which amounts to the Crime of Apartheid.