NGO Monitor Letter to González Laya, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Secretary of State Moreno Bau
Dear Minister González Laya
Dear Secretary of State Moreno Bau,
We write to you regarding evidence that we have uncovered, showing that Spanish government grantees are linked to a terrorist organization.
Similar concerns are being discussed intensively and urgently across Europe. For example, on July 20, the Dutch government announced it was freezing funding to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) over its close links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organization by the EU and others. Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Development Minister Sigrid Kaag revealed that an internal government audit concluded that Dutch funds were used to pay the salaries of two individuals arrested for murder.
Additionally, on May 19, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stated during a meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), that he had instructed the heads of EU delegations to Israel and West Bank/ Gaza to “look deeply” into the allegations that some EU funds go to terror-linked or supporting NGOs, declaring that such funding “will not be tolerated.”
In the Spanish context, different ministries and agencies, as well as regional and municipal authorities, are funding projects with PFLP-linked NGOs: Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Bisan Center, Addameer, and Health Work Committees (HWC). Several senior officials from these NGOs (UAWC, Addameer, HWC) were arrested as part a 50-person terror cell operating in the West Bank allegedly responsible for a bomb attack that murdered a teenager in August 2019.
- Ubai Aboudi: Bisan’s Executive Director since April 2019. He was arrested by Israeli authorities on November 13, 2019. In an indictment of another recently indicted PFLP leader, Aboudi is referred to a PFLP member who was told to recruit additional members to the cell. In June 2020, Aboudi was sentenced to 12-months in prison.
- Itiraf Hajaj (Rimawi) served as Bisan’s previous Executive Director (from 2014 at least). He was arrested in September 2019. The Israel Security Agency refers to Rimawi as being responsible for PFLP clandestine operations.
- Walid Hanatsheh (Abu Ras): Health Work Committees (HWC)’s finance and administration manager. Hanatsheh is on trial for allegedly being the leader of PFLP “military” operations and commanding the cell that carried out the August 2019 bombing attack. According to the indictment, Hanatsheh bankrolled the August bombing.
- Samer Arbid, UAWC accountant and previously UAWC “financial officer” (formerly Addameer’s accountant). Arbid is on trial for commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the bombing. According to the indictment (on file), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.
- Abdel Razeq Farraj, UAWC “Finance and Administration Director.” According to his indictment (on file), Razeq Farraj held a senior PFLP post and authorized the August 2019 bombing. He is currently standing trial.
- Khalida Jarrar: Addameer’s vice-chairperson until 2017, Jarrar was arrested in October 2019 on suspicions of “involvement in terror activity.” On December 18, 2019, it was revealed that Jarrar had “emerged as the head of the PFLP in the West Bank and responsible for all the organization’s activities” (emphasis added). According to the indictment (on file), she headed the PFLP operations in the West Bank since June 2016.
Spanish funding to these NGOs includes:
- Health Work Committees
- Basque Agency for Development Cooperation (AVCD) provided €180,000 (2017-2019)
- Union of Agricultural Work Committees
- Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) provides UAWC with €400,000 for “Improving the economic situation of vulnerable farmers.” (2019-2021)
- According to the UN-OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service, Spain provided in 2020 $10,917 (USD) and in 2019 $462,771 (USD) to three projects in Gaza with the World Food Programme. Documents published by the Food Security Sector show that the Sector distributes funds to and partners with NGOs, including UAWC.
In light of this information and the developments in the Netherlands, we urge Spain to immediately freeze any funds that may be going to UAWC and other terror-linked NGOs, launch an investigation into previous grants to UAWC, and implement robust vetting mechanisms to ensure that terror-linked NGOs do not receive taxpayer funds.
Prof Gerald M. Steinberg Olga Deutsch
President Vice President
CC: H. E. Mr. Manuel Gómez-Acebo, Ambassador of Spain to Israel
Spanish MFA Response to NGO Monitor (August 17, 2020)
Allow me to respond to your letter of August 3 both on behalf of Minister Gonzalez Laya and my own. I appreciate your interest in the relationship of Spanish Cooperation with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Adameer and Health Work Committees.
I would like to emphasize that neither of these NGOs are on the list of organizations banned by the EU nor have we received any warning from the United Nations system. Furthermore, several EU Member States continue to work with them, in addition to international organizations such as OCHA.
With regard to the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), I would like to highlight that AECID does not finance organizations or individuals. AECID supports cooperation projects and programs based on the achievement of development goals in favor of the Palestinian population in need.
Implementation of AECID’s project with UAWC “Improving the situation of vulnerable farmers through farm rehabilitation and implementation of solar energy systems in Gaza”, which you mention in your letter, is making progress according to plan.
Please rest assured that the government of Spain is fully committed to the fight against terrorism, a scourge that has unfortunately caused hundreds of victims in our country.
Angeles Moreno Bau
Secretary of State for International Cooperation