The Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC) is identified by Fatah as an official “affiliate” and by USAID-engaged audit as the “agricultural arm” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. UAWC is also highly active in promoting BDS campaigns and utilizing inflammatory rhetoric. For more information on UAWC’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Union of Agricultural Work Committees Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
|In their own words||A “non-profit organization by a group of volunteers and agronomists” in response to what it calls “the vulnerable socio-political circumstance of farmers that resulted from occupation policies in confiscating lands and water in the early eighties and therefore directly harmed the interests of farmers and Palestinians.”|
- The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) has not published any financial data, donor information, or sources of funding on its website since 2014, reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.
- While UAWC claims to “reject normalization and political conditional funding,” its donors include numerous governments and international aid organizations.
- Donors include France, Netherlands, Spain (AECID), Norwegian People’s Aid, Medico, Grassroots International, Oxfam Solidarité, and the United Nations. (See table below for further funding information.)
- In 2017-2021, the Netherlands (Representative Office in Ramallah) granted $11.3 million to UAWC to “implement the second phase of the Land and Water Resource Management program.”
- On July 20, 2020, the Dutch government announced that it was suspending funding to UAWC over links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). During a parliamentary debate, Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Development Minister Sigrid Kaag acknowledged that an internal government audit concluded that Dutch funds were used to pay the salaries of two UAWC employees who were also members of the PFLP terror organization and then arrested for murder. (See more below.)
- In 2017-2021, UAWC and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) were implementing partners on a €7 million project funded by the European Union for “Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organizations.”1
- In 2011-2017, the European Union provided €18.3 million to projects involving UAWC.
- In 2020-2024, UAWC is receiving NOK 70.4 million from Norway via Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) for a project titled “Civil Society influence for reduced inequality in Palestine.”
- In a letter sent to NGO Monitor, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “To date, we have not uncovered conclusive information that the Union of Agricultural Works Committee (UAWC), as an organization, is involved in or supports acts of terrorism.
- In 2019, UAWC received €232,000 from France (AFD) for a project “irrigation and collective management of water resources for improving living conditions of Palestinian farmers in Hebron, in the Palestinian territories,” with the French group Experts Solidaires.
- In 2019-2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) provides UAWC with €400,000 for “Improving the economic situation of vulnerable farmers.”
- UAWC received a grant of NOK 49.4 million from Norway (via Norwegian People’s Aid) for a project (2016-2019) titled “Partnership for democratic development in Palestine.” The project is being implemented by 11 NGO partners, including the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC), a Palestinian NGO identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAID as the “PFLP’s women’s organization.”
- According to UN-OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) database, Canada committed funding to projects involving UAWC in 2016 and 2017. Canada committed $3.5 million to Oxfam Italia for a 2017 project,2 “Recovery support to vulnerable farmers, fisherman and herders in Gaza Strip,” with UAWC listed as an implementing partner.
- In 2017, UAWC received $479,526 from UN OCHA for “Emergency support for greenhouse and poultry farmers to overcome the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip” and “The provision of rehabilitation for the open field land in Gaza strip.”
- In 2017-2018, UAWC received €286,002 from Oxfam-Solidarité (Belgium).
- In 2015, UAWC received €184,989.43 from Spain to “Mitigate food insecurity of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip which is affected by the imposition of the ‘Restricted Access Areas.’”
- In 2014, UAWC received €6.1 million from the European Union (through European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument- ENPI and the Development Cooperation Instrument) for three programs dealing with olive oil; livestock husbandry; and land, water, and human resource development. (See below for details on EU funding to UAWC.)
- The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) describes itself as a “non-profit organization by a group of volunteers and agronomists” in response to what it calls “the vulnerable socio-political circumstance of farmers that resulted from occupation policies in confiscating lands and water in the early eighties and therefore directly harmed the interests of farmers and Palestinians.”
- According to its website, in its early years UAWC “focused on struggling with the Israeli Occupation’s procedures that marginalized agriculture and destroyed the infrastructure of Palestinian agriculture… During the current Intifada (from the beginning of this century) and after the deterioration of the economic circumstance of the majority of Palestinians and mainly farmers, a change occurred on the nature of the Union’s programs as emergency projects became the bulk of its work.”
- Aims to bring about a “Palestinian society that is food secured enjoys social justice, holds on its land and lives in a democratic Free Palestinian State, enjoys sovereignty over his resources; where farmers both male and female, contribute effectively in all aspects of life.”
- In January 2020, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), of which UAWC is a member, vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. According to media reports, PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”
UAWC Ties to the PFLP
- UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP. According to academic scholar Glenn E. Robinson, UAWC was founded in 1986 by “agronomists loosely affiliated with the PFLP.” For more information on UAWC’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Union of Agricultural Work Committees Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
- According to the Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin, UAWC “was established by the PFLP; is controlled by senior PFLP operatives; makes its assets available to the PFLP; and acts in coordination with and to advance the interests of the PFLP (including active involvement in PFLP political activity).”
- In July 2020, Dutch government announced that it was suspending funding to UAWC over links to the PFLP. An internal government audit concluded that Dutch funds were used to pay the salaries of two UAWC employees who were also members of the PFLP terror organization and then arrested for murder.
- In February 2017, diplomats from the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah met with senior officials from UAWC, including Abdel Razeq Farraj and Ubai Aboudi, who are currently standing trial or incarcerated due to their involvement in PFLP activities, as well as Razeq Al-Barghouti, the representative of jailed PFLP leader Ahmed Sa’adat.
- In May 2019, Samer Arbid and Abdel Razeq Farraj attended a memorial event organized by the PFLP. It centered on PFLP political bureau member Rabah Muhanna, who, according to information posted by the PFLP, “contributed to the establishment” of several PFLP-affiliated NGOs. The hall was decorated with PFLP paraphernalia. (See more on Arbid and Razeq Farraj below.)
- In June 2018, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express shut down online credit card donations for UAWC due to its ties to the PFLP.
- In 2012, World Vision Australia suspended activities with UAWC due to its alleged ties to the PFLP.
- In 2010, UAWC organized “a solidarity day with the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat…” The “solidarity day” featured Muhammad Bakri, executive director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Gaza, and celebrated “the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi” (an attack perpetrated by the PFLP).
UAWC Staff Ties to the PFLP
- Samer Arbid, UAWC’s accountant from 2016 until his arrest in 2019, was indicted on 21 counts in Israeli military court. Arbid is on trial for commanding a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing, murdering an Israeli civilian, and injuring her father and brother. According to the indictment against him (on file), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device. On August 30, 2020, the PFLP referred to Arbid as a “prisoner and commander,” and “one of the heroes of the Bubeen operation” — referring to the August 2019 bombing.
- Abdul Razeq Farraj, UAWC Finance and Administration Director, was arrested on October 23, 2019 and indicted on 4 counts in Israeli military court. His alleged crimes include holding a position in an illegal and aiding an attempt to cause death in connection to the August 2019 bombing. Farraj spent six years, from 1985-1991, in “an Israeli prison after being convicted of affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
- Ubai Aboudi, the Executive Director of Bisan Center for Research & Development, was UAWC’s “M&E [Monitoring and Evaluation] Officer” until April 2019. In June 2020, he was sentenced to 12-months in prison. According to his conviction, Aboudi “was convicted of being a member and an activist of the Popular Front organization during the period starting from 2016 and ending in July 2019.” Specifically, Aboudi “was responsible for recruiting additional activists to the organization from young people and students, as well as strengthening the organization’s infrastructure in the area” (on file with NGO Monitor).
- Ismat al-Shuli, member of UAWC’s Board of Directors until at least 2016, was in Israeli prison for seven years, beginning in 1975, for “belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” A December 2017 article in Palestinian media refers to al-Shuli as a “PFLP leader.”
- Zakaria Bakr, UAWC’s “head of the Gaza Fisherman Committee,” is referred to in Palestinian media as a PFLP “comrade.” In 2017, according to the PFLP, Bakr, alongside members of the PFLP Central Committee, participated in a sporting event organized by the PFLP in honor of the anniversary of the organization’s assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.
- Rezeq Al-Barghothy, Chairman of UAWC’s Board of Directors, has been described in Palestinian media as “The representative of Ahmed Saadat, head of the Popular Front.” In 2016, Al-Barghothy participated in a sit-in “in solidarity” with Palestinian prisoners who were on a hunger strike. He is seen standing in front of a PFLP banner and holding PFLP signs for prisoners.
- Bashir al Khairi, former President of the UAWC board of trustees, “was convicted of terrorist offences in 1969 and gaoled for 15 years.” Khairi was the head of the PFLP political bureau.
- UAWC rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
- Utilizes highly biased and demonizing rhetoric, accusing the “Israel occupation forces” of “continuing its brutal and immoral offensive  war on Gaza” and an ongoing “policy of collective punishment in disregard for the international law and humanitarian law… in violation of the principles of necessity, proportionality and distinction.”
- UAWC omits Palestinian terrorism and Hamas rocket fire aimed at Israeli civilians, promoting views based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization.
- In April 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, UAWC published a statement calling to “end and isolate the Israeli killing machine, to expose and stop the field executions of civilians in Gaza, people of the world today must stop the hand of the ugly capitalism extended in the region through the occupying state, the greatest tool in the region and force it to end its occupation of Palestine.” UAWC ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- In January 2018, as a member of Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network- Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON), released statement on the occasion of Land Day accusing Israel of “Zionist expansionism and massive Israeli land grabs,” and stated that “Apartheid, which is what we live under, is the atrocious conglomeration of colonialism, racism, denial of self-determination, and expulsion..”
- In November 2017, UAWC was a signatory on a call to support “A World Without Walls,” drawing comparisons between “Israel’s apartheid wall on Palestinian land to the US wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico.”
- In September 2017, as a member of PENGON, UAWC was a signatory on a call to restaurant chefs to “Take Apartheid off the Menu” and cancel their participation in the Tel Aviv “Round Tables Tour” as it “uses the time-honored tradition of sharing culinary experiences as a means for whitewashing widespread violation of Palestinian fundamental rights, including the right to food.”
- On September 1, 2016, UAWC signed a letter to the Italian Association of Farmers asking them to “rethink their sponsorship and participation” in the Israeli Watec Conference due to its “role in the grave violations of human rights and water rights” and compliance with “water apartheid.”
- In November 2015, UAWC wrote a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urging the UN to take “action against Israel’s systematic policy of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, and the discrimination against Palestinians in occupied Palestinian land in 1948. We urge the United Nations to finally acknowledge the systematic killing and injuring of Palestinian civilian as a war crime and a crime against humanity.”
- In September 2014, UAWC signed on an appeal to the Union of European Football Associations to “exclude the bid of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) for Jerusalem to host UEFA …given Israel’s recent war crimes against the people of Gaza and the on-going occupation and persistent human rights violations against Palestinians, including in the field of sports.”
- According to its 2012 annual report, “UAWC staff and its volunteers and agricultural committees carried out a number of anti-occupation public events in the West Bank and Gaza in 2012” including: “Palestinian reconciliation and its impact on the agricultural reality”; “the anniversary of the Nakba”; “the land is ours”; “organizing field visits for delegations and foreign solidarity activists.”
- In 2018-2019, UAWC lobbied in support of the discriminatory UN blacklist of businesses supposedly operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel.
- In March 2020, UAWC was a signatory on a letter to OHCHR High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet praising the High Commissioner for publishing the list and stating that it “look[s] forward to continuing to work with the OHCHR, with a view toward ending corporate impunity for profiting from grave breaches of international law.”
- In May 2020, UAWC was a signatory on a statement calling for “Immediate targeted sanctions to stop Israel’s annexation and apartheid.” The statement further called for “A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspension of trade and cooperation agreements with Israel,” and “Investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid.”
- In November 2019, PNGO, of which UAWC is a member, signed a statement calling for the “international community to immediately impose sanctions on the State of Israel and illegal Israeli settlements” and “implement domestic legislation to prohibit and criminalize the import of illegal settlement goods and services into their territory.”
- In May 2019, UAWC was a signatory on a statement calling on the German Bundestag to revoke a joint resolution defining BDS campaigns against Israel as antisemitic.
- Signed (together with Addameer, BADIL, Al-Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Democracy & Conflict Resolution) on a Joint Call to Action: July 2014 – Month against the Apartheid Wall stating: “….it is time for a ‘legal intifada’, an intensified popular struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions….We ask you to expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice…”
- In February 2013, UAWC organized protests of Palestinian farmers as part of a “day of action” to “support boycotts of Israeli agricultural corporations.”
- In May 2012, UAWC signed on a call to supermarket chains to implement a “ban on trade with all companies that export from illegal Israeli settlements as a minimal form of ending complicity in Israel’s occupation and apartheid.”
- In May 2005, signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel as a means to “isolate Apartheid Israel…forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”
- Signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS” which calls for an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”
- Member of Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network- Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON).
- In January 2018, on the occasion of Land Day, PENGON accused Israel of “Zionist expansionism and massive Israeli land grabs,” and stated that “Apartheid, which is what we live under, is the atrocious conglomeration of colonialism, racism, denial of self-determination, and expulsion.”
- In March 2018, PENGON published an article about the EU’s energy projects with Israel, stating that “The EU has a legal duty of non-recognition, including the duty to give no aid or assistance in the maintenance of the unlawful situation created by Israel in the OPT with these serious violations. EU purchases of Israeli gas would enable substantial revenues to be used in Israel’s militarisation and de facto annexationist policies of the occupied Palestinian territory and appropriation and exploitation of its natural resources.”
- Member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which was instrumental in producing many of the preparatory documents for the Durban 2001 conference including the document calling for embargoes on Israel.
- In January 2020, PNGO vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. According to media reports, PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”
- In April 2017, PNGO called on the international community not to “use aid to undermine legitimate Palestinian resistance.” According to PNGO, “We reject all de-legitimization or criminalization of lawful Palestinian resistance, whether in form of allegations of terrorism, anti-semitism or otherwise… We call on all governments and aid providers to respect our right to lawful resistance, support Palestinian human rights defenders, and ensure equal, impartial and transparent access to funding for all.”
- In March 2016, as a member of Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), PNGO stated that “Israel’s current government, its most racist ever, has dropped all pretences of ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’. This has helped to expose Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to world public opinion like never before.”
Funding to UAWC
|Italy||Associazione Di Cooperazione E Solidarieta (Italy)||2018-2021||€527,102|
|Organizzazione Per Lo Sviluppo Globale Di Comunita’ In Paesi Extraeuropei Onlus||2018-2020||€241,471|
|Netherlands||Representative Office in Ramallah (NRO)||2019||€1.67 million|
|Norway||Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs||2020-2024||NOK 70.4 million|
|Norwegian People’s Aid||2018||NOK 13,155,986|
|Solidaridad Internacional Andalucia||2018||€445,778|
|United Nations||UN OCHA||2018||$400,000|
- In a response (June 10, 2020; on file with NGO Monitor) to a Freedom of Information Request submitted by NGO Monitor, the EU claimed that it “does not have any contract with UAWC, neither they are part of the description of the action annexed to the EU agreement with FAO. UAWC was selected as an implementing partner through a Call for Proposals organized by FAO in line with its own procedures.”
- OPT-17/A/97156/R (found on fts.unocha.org and on file with NGO Monitor).
- Palestinian group said to film West Bank settlement with drone Times of Israel, January 3, 2017