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Introduction

Founded in 1980, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees Society (UPWC – originally Union of Palestinian Women Committees) states that its mission is “to empower Palestinian women on all levels and to contribute in the Palestinian national struggle against the Israeli military illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.” According to a 2012 article published in Haaretz, UPWC “operates 21 preschools and day-care centers in the poorest communities in the West Bank.”

UPWC supports “the boycott of occupation in all forms, including economic, cultural, academic and all other forms of boycott” and rejects any normalization with Israel calling it “treason.”

As documented in this report, UPWC has multiple links to the PFLP terrorist organization.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Founded by George Habash in 1967, the PFLP is a secular Palestinian Marxist-Leninist terror group, originally supported by the former Soviet Union and China. The PFLP is a designated terrorist organization by the USEUCanada, and Israel and is involved in suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians. It is well-known for hijacking commercial airlines in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as targeting civilians in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and is responsible for countless deaths and injuries.

The PFLP assassinated Israeli Minister of Tourism Rechavam Ze’evi in 2001. In 1976, its members joined with the Baader-Meinhof Gang (a West German terror group) to hijack an Air France Tel Aviv-bound flight, diverting it in Entebbe, Uganda. In 2011, PFLP members took credit for the brutal murder of the Fogel family, including a baby and two young children. The PFLP was also responsible for the 2014 massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, murdering four worshipers and an Israeli Druze police officer. In August 2019, a PFLP terror cell carried out a bombing against Israeli civilians, murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother.

The PFLP has never recognized the State of Israel, and opposes all negotiations, instead calling for the “liberation” of all of “historical Palestine,” regularly by means of terror.

Funding

UPWC’s terror affiliation is antithetical to human rights norms and principles. Due to its affiliation with the PFLP, the provision of funds to UPWC is in likely violation of international, EU, and domestic terror financing and material support laws. The organization is therefore an inappropriate partner for governments and individuals seeking to further human rights in the region.

The PFLP terror group logo is seen next to the EU and UPWC logos at a workshop to support female participation in elections. (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, November 12, 2017: https://www.facebook.com/AthadLjanAlmratAlflstynyt/posts/1690065831011734?__tn__=-R)

UPWC’s Organizational Ties to the PFLP

Selected UPWC Staff Members with Ties to the PFLP

Numerous UPWC staff members have ties to the PFLP terror group.

Khitam Saafin: UPWC President.2

  • In 2017, Khitam Saafin was arrested by Israeli security forces.
  • In a July 2017 statement published by the PFLP, the terrorist organization “confirmed that the Zionist occupation forces launched a pre-dawn campaign of raids across the occupied West Bank of Palestine on Sunday, arresting a number of leaders and activists of the Front, led by the Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar, feminist activist Khitam Saafin and former prisoner Ihab Massoud, as well as a number of activists in al-Khalil” (emphasis added). The PFLP also “urged the Palestinian masses to escalate the popular movement to support the struggle of the brave prisoners in Israeli jails, for Jarrar and Saafin and the prisoner Muhammad Allan, on hunger strike for 25 days.”
  • The PFLP has referred to Saafin as a “comrade.”

Suhair Khader: UPWC Vice President.3

  • According to the PFLP, Suhair Khader is “a member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
  • In a March 2018 article on the PFLP’s website, Khader states that the “recovery of our stolen rights and the realization of our national and struggle project, which is basically the right of return –the essence of the conflict between us and the Zionist enemy rapist – can only be through the crystallization of a mass of pressure and severe masses flowing to the camps return” (emphasis added). Khader further “stressed the need to strengthen women’s participation and the need for them to be advanced to the front rows and to continue their struggle. They must also be armed with the motivation and determination until the restoration of our national rights, as manifested in the right of return and the liberation of every centimeter of occupied Palestine” (emphasis added).

Photo of Suhair Khader on PFLP Website with PFLP flag in the background. (Source: PFLP, “Khadr: We call for intensifying the participation of women in the march of return as an essential partner in the struggle,” March 29, 2018)

Samira Abdel-Alim: UPWC coordinator in Rafah, Gaza.4

  • According to the PFLP, Abdel-Alim is a member of the PFLP’s Central Committee.
  • In 2015, Samira Abdel-Alim participated in a symposium “In Support of Our Heroes” that called for the “support of the prisoners in the prisons of the Zionist enemy.” The symposium, which took place at UPWC’s headquarters, was co-organized by the International Campaign for Solidarity with the PFLP’s Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat.

Photo of Samira Abdel-Alim on the PFLP Website, taken during a symposium “In Support of Our Heroes,” hosted at UPWC’s Headquarters (Source: PFLP, “Solidarity Campaign with Leader Sa’adat Organizations a Symposium in Rafah entitled in ‘Support of Our Heroes,’” February 26, 2015)

Maha Nassar

  • According to an October 2013 statement published by UPWC on the PFLP’s website, Nassar, who died in 2008, “contributed to the foundation of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees in 1980, elected as its president in 1994, and was reelected twice afterwards.”
  • According the statement, Nassar “was one of the first people who founded the Popular Front Organization” at Birzeit University. According to the same statement, she also served as a “member in the Assembly” of the Palestinian NGO Woman’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC).5
  • In the statement, UPWC claims that “her actions have always preceded her words, like those of Shadia Abu Ghazaleh and Dalal Al Moghrabi and all Palestinian women martyrs” and that “Comrade Maha’s visible role in the first and second Intifada is well known to the Palestinian people.”
    • In 1978, Dalal Mugrabi, a Palestinian terrorist, murdered 38 civilians, including 13 children in the Coastal Road Massacre.
    • Shadia Abu Ghazaleh is referred to by the PFLP as a “comrade.” The PFLP website notes that she was “one of the original members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” and “one of the first Palestinian women to be involved in military resistance in the post-1967 era.” According to the PFLP, “She participated in and led several military operations carried out by the PFLP before the accidental detonation of a bomb in her home. Today, her name is immortal as a struggler, a leader, and a fighter in the history of the Palestinian people and the people of the world.”
  • The PFLP refers to Nassar as a “comrade,” “role model,” and “icon of national and democratic struggle.”
  • The PFLP also refers to her as “a leading Palestinian feminist” and “member of the Central Committee of the PFLP.”

Dalia Nassar: Maha Nassar’s (above) daughter, Dalia Nassar also appears to be a UPWC member6 and representative.7 She serves as UPWC coordinator for the Kanan Project (see above).8

Ismat Shakhshir: UPWC member9 /and official10 in Nablus.

UPWC and Progressive Student Action Front Ceremony with banner of Leila Khaled (Source: PFLP, “The Student Action Front and the Union of Women’s Committees honor the active and successful student,” March 11, 2019)

Photo of Ismat Shakhshir during the ceremony in honor of the International Women’s Day. (Source: PFLP, “The Student Action Front and the Union of Women’s Committees honor the active and successful student,” March 11, 2019)

Photo of Ismat Shakhshir during a workshop “The boycott of Israeli goods and its impact on the normalization” (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees Federation, Facebook, November 28, 2017)

Photo of Ismat Shakhshir during a workshop “Detention experiences and human rights during de-tention, interrogation and trial” (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, April 21, 2015)

UPWC’s Incitement of Children

  • According to UPWC, the organization supervises the “Ghassan Kanafani” educational project for young children. Kanafani was a “leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
  • The Ghassan Kanafani Project’s 2017 preschool graduation ceremony program included “solidarity with our brave prisoners” and children dressed in military uniforms and holding PFLP signs:

Pictures of the festivities marking the end of the 2017 Ghassan Kanafani project. The pictures are published on UPWC’s Facebook account and feature children wearing uniforms or T-shirts of Kanafani. One child is seen lying down on the floor with a gun. Others are dancing around with knives. One picture also presents children holding a poster of what appears to be PFLP prisoners. (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, May 29, 2017)

(Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, May 29, 2017: https://www.facebook.com/upwcs/photos/ms.c.eJw9ztsJRFEIQ9GOBuMz9t~;YcLzo72IbRLpaZ3lQFJo~;DBTQsHDVBZVXCGXBRD1ZVguOKaIP6m0YbzRyToCF1DkxLpS9ItsX~_BW4gv3BbfSMZi1QIijojgXE~;HEbNBkQW5jX0dF~;M1M3CQ~-~-.bps.a.1642396675802133/1642397415802059/?type=3&theater)

Appendix 1: UPWC Glorification of Terrorism

Post commemorating the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi. (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, March 11, 2018)

UPWC honors “families of martyrs.” The picture features a “martyr” wearing a PFLP bandana. (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, March 26, 2019)

UPWC organized an event in commemoration of the PFLP’s founder George Habash. Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, February 4, 2018)

UPWC’s poster in honor of International Women’s Day: “Our voice is the voice of revolutions” (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, March 6, 2016)

UPWC Facebook post: “They are the partners of struggle” (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, March 31, 2019)

UPWC Facebook post: “Our women in the field side by side with our young heroes” (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, April 13, 2018)