The Dutch government has said it will no longer fund the Ramallah-based Union of Agricultural Work Committees, UAWC, one of the six major Palestinian civil society organizations that Israel banned as ‘terrorist groups’ last October.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the UAWC said it was “shocked and saddened by the decision,” adding that the Dutch government “is not just abandoning UAWC, but Palestinian civil society at large”.
The UAWC, for which the Dutch government has been the main donor since 2013, is a grassroots non-governmental organization focused “on Palestinian rights of freedom, development, and decent life on their land that is recognized as Occupied Territories”, according to the organization website.
The Dutch government decision comes after an 18-month suspension of funding. In July 2020, an external review was launched by the Dutch ministry for foreign trade and development cooperation, following the arrest of two Palestinian employees of the organization. The findings of this investigation were presented on Wednesday before the Dutch parliament.
Though the review found no evidence of “organizational unity … at the individual level between UAWC staff and board members and the PFLP”, the Dutch government decided to end all funding to the organization.
“We will consider legal steps to challenge today’s harmful and unfair decision by the Dutch government,” the UAWC added in its statement, calling on “other donors to maintain and increase their support for UAWC and all Palestinian civil society organizations”.