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Introduction

Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC) defines itself as a “one of the largest agricultural development institutions in Palestine as it was established in 1986 by a group of agronomists.”

The group adds that “when established, UAWC depended on volunteers completely and formed agricultural committees in the West Bank and Gaza to set the priorities of farmers and help the Union in implementing its programs and community activities.” It is “registered as a non-governmental agricultural organization according to the Palestinian Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations Law No. 1 at the Palestinian Ministry of Interior.”

UAWC rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.” UAWC also promotes BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.

UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) “affiliate” and by a USAID-engaged audit 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.”

It is important to note that UAWC has offices in both the West Bank and Gaza. The two parts of the organization participate in annual meetings together, as noted in UAWC’s Facebook photo album of its 2018 meeting that shows both branches in attendance (the Gaza branch via Skype). UAWC’s West Bank and Gaza branches also share an organizational structure (see Appendix I).

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

Founded by George Habash in 1967, the PFLP is a secular Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organization, originally supported by the former Soviet Union and China. The PFLP is a terrorist organization, designated as such by the EU, the US, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP is involved in suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians, and was the first Palestinian organization to hijack airplanes in the 1960s and 1970s.

The group was responsible for the assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rechavam Ze’evi in 2001, and its members joined with the Baader-Meinhof Gang (a West German radical group) to hijack an Air France Tel Aviv-bound flight in 1976, landing it in Entebbe, Uganda. PFLP members took credit for the house invasion and murder of the Fogel family in 2011 and was responsible for the massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood in 2014 where four worshipers and an Israeli Druze police officer were murdered. The terror organization also praised its “comrades” for their role in the murder of Israeli Border Police office Hadas Malka, and wounding of four other Israelis in a June 16, 2017 attack in Jerusalem. 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 with Israel, instead calling for the “liberation” of all of “historical Palestine,” regularly by means of terror.

NGO Monitor has identified a broad network of Palestinian NGOs claiming to advance human rights or humanitarian interests that have links to the PFLP terror group.  These connections include current and former NGO board members, officials, and employees who served in the PFLP or spoken on its behalf at public events and taken part in PFLP forums.

Funding

UAWC claims to “reject normalization and political conditional funding.” Yet, its donors include numerous governments and international aid organizations. Additionally, UAWC’s terror affiliation is antithetical to human rights norms and principles. Due to its affiliation with the PFLP, the provision of funds to UAWC 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.

  • In 2019, UAWC received €1.7 million from the Netherlands; €2.6 million in 2018; and €3.8 million in 2017.
  • 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 2018, UAWC received €25,848 from Oxfam Solidarité (Belgium), €241,471 from Organizzazione Per Lo Sviluppo Globale Di Comunita’ In Paesi Extraeuropei Onlus (Italy), €527,102 from Associazione Di Cooperazione E Solidarieta (Italy), NOK 13,155,986 from Norwegian People’s Aid (Norway), and €445,778 Solidaridad Internacional Andalucia (Spain).
  • In 2018, UAWC received $400,000 from the Dutch organization Oxfam Novib (occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund) for “urgent support for the most vulnerable families in Gaza Strip.”1
  • In 2018, UAWC, Jazoor, Hayat Center, and the Ministry of Health received $1.3 million from Médecins du Monde France to “Reinforce the access to quality medical, mental and psychosocial emergency response” in Gaza.2 Of this, $968,915 was provided by Germany and $400,000 from the UN’s “occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund.”
  • 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,3Recovery support to vulnerable farmers, fisherman and herders in Gaza Strip,” with UAWC listed as an implementing partner. This grant appears to correspond with “GC-2017-Q4-0151,” found on the “canada.ca” website, with the same project name and for the same amount.
    • In 2016, according to FTS,4 Canada committed $3 million to CARE International for “humanitarian assistance – emergency livelihoods response to small-scale farmers affected by the Gaza crisis,” with UAWC included as an NGO partner. This grant appears to correspond with “GC-2017-Q1-0009” on the “canada.ca” website, a multi-year  food security grant of $7 million to CARE Canada for work in the West Bank and Gaza.

UAWC’s Organizational Ties to PFLP

UAWC – West Bank Employees with Ties to the PFLP

Numerous UAWC staff members, founders, board members, general assembly members, and senior staff members have ties to the PFLP terror group.

Samer Arbid

According to Arabic-language media, Arbid worked as UAWC’s accountant at the time of his 2019 arrest.6 According to Samidoun, yet another PFLP-linked NGO, Arbid was the “financial director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in the West Bank” in 2016.

Previously, the PFLP-tied NGO Addameer’s website listed Arbid as its accountant for several years.

Arbid is seen in a March 2019 photo posted on Facebook by UAWC (Source: UAWC, Facebook, March 21, 2019: https://www.facebook.com/uawcpal/photos/a.194160117304192/2118876701499181/?type=3&theater)

Arbid at UAWC’s 2018 annual assembly (Source: UAWC, Facebook, May 5, 2018: https://www.facebook.com/uawcpal/photos/a.194160117304192/1684563951597127/?type=3&theater)

2016 Grassroots International Post regarding Arbid’s 2015 arrest (Source: Grassroots International, Facebook, April 12, 2016: https://www.facebook.com/GrassrootsIntll/photos/a.10150263324402756/10153603329272756/?type=1&theater)

2016 Samidoun article regarding Arbid’s 2016 detention (Source: Samidoun, “Palestinian land defender’s imprisonment without charge or trial extended by Israeli military occupation,” March 14, 2016: https://samidoun.net/2016/03/palestinian-land-defenders-imprisonment-without-charge-or-trial-extended-by-israeli-military-occupation/)

Abdul Razeq Farraj

UAWC Finance and Administration Director.7

  • Farraj 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 organization. This allegedly included responsibility for recruiting new members into the PFLP. Under this count, the indictment notes that Samer Arbid informed Farraj about “attacks and attempted attacks” carried out by the terror cell led by the former, as well as details pertaining to its weapons and explosives.
    • Aiding an attempt to cause death in connection to the August 2019 bombing.
  • The indictment also states that “a few days after the terror attack, Farraj met with Hanatsheh at Farraj’s place of work office and the two discussed the attack.”
  • Spent six years, from 1985-1991, in “an Israeli prison after being convicted of affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
  • According to Amnesty International, Farraj was released from prison in July 2018 after spending 14 months (from May 2017) in administrative detention.
  • According to Addameer, Farraj was also in administrative detention from May 30, 1994-February 1, 1996; April 9, 2002 – July 28, 2006; January 12, 2009 – October 6, 2009; November 27, 2011 – July 20, 2012; and February 25, 2014 until at least October 2015.

Abdul Rzeq Farraj (Source: الحرية لاسير الحرية عبد الرازق فراج, Facebook, May 26, 2014: https://www.facebook.com/710570302335672/photos/a.710583729000996/710604825665553/?type=3&theater)

Ismat al-Shuli 

Member of UAWC’s Board of Directors until at least 2016.8

  • Al-Shuli was in Israeli prison for seven years, beginning in 1975, for “belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” He was also in jail for “five years from 1983 to 1988,and then administrative detention for two periods of 16 months, 1989 and then again in 1990, bringing the number of years in detention to 14 years.” Al-Shuli was again arrested on March 4, 2014 and released on January 1, 2015 after 10 months in administrative detention.
  • A December 2017 article in Palestinian media refers to al-Shuli as a “PFLP leader” and refers to a statement he gave during a “mass rally” through the streets of Ramallah with “thousands of Palestinians, including supporters of the PFLP.”
  • In September 2016, al-Shuli spoke at a PFLP event commemorating PFLP Secretary General Abu Ali Mustafa and was referred to as a PFLP “leader.”
  • On March 30, 2010, Al-Shuli attended a UAWC “Land Day” celebration. Other attendees included PFLP Deputy Secretary-General Abdel Rahim Malloh and UAWC board members Bashir Al Khairi, Al-Barghouthi, and Khalid Al-Hadmi.

Khaled Hidmi

Was UAWC’s General Director until 2014.

  • Hidmi simultaneously headed the UAWC’s West Bank branch and the Israeli Agricultural Work Committee organization. This Israeli entity was disbanded by a court order in 2018 due to financial irregularities and a lack of transparency (on file with NGO Monitor).
  • As mentioned above, in 2014, UAWC opened a new center to market agricultural products. The center’s inaugural event was attended by Hidmi, as well as Abdul Rahim Malloh, then Deputy Secretary-General of the PFLP.

Khaled Al-Hadmi (left) with PFLP Deputy Secretary-General Abdel Rahim Malloh. (Source: https://www.wattan.tv/ar/news/112805.html)

 

Hadmi and PFLP Deputy Secretary-General Abdel Rahim Malloh together at a UAWC in event. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20190706210803/http:/uawc-pal.org/Files/cb283a5a-bacf-462f-90cd-f015748760ec.pdf.pdf

Yusuf Abd al-Haq

Yusuf Abd al-Haq was member of UAWC’s Board of Directors until at least 2016. In 2014, Abd al-Haq was referred to as a legal and economic adviser at a UAWC conference. In 2018, he took part in the UAWC’s annual general assembly.

  • Referred to, on multiple occasions, as a PFLP “leader.”
  • In February 2014, according to the PFLP, “Dr. Yousef Abdul Haq, a former lecturer at the university, spoke on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, discussing Habash’s life as well as a current political analysis of the Palestinian cause.”9
  • In 2014, according to Al Jazeera, “The Israeli occupation forces launched a campaign of arrests that included leaders and cadres of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at An-Najah University in Nablus in the northern West Bank. Dr. Yousef Abdul-Haq – Professor of Economics at An-Najah University in Nablus – was one of the most prominent detainees…”

Bashir al-Khairi

Former president of UAWC’s Board (until 2011).

  • A May 4, 2014 PFLP article refers to Al-Khairi as a “leader” and a “comrade.” The article also explains that Al-Khairi attended a May 1, 2014 PFLP event where a mural was unveiled “honouring al-Hakim, Dr. George Habash, the founder of the Front and the Arab Nationalist Movement.
  • In August 2014, according to the PFLP, al-Khairi stressed that the “approach of resistance and liberation in the life of Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa is still firmly in the mind of every free Palestinian” at a PFLP event commemorating the “13th Anniversary of Martyrdom of its Secretary General Abu Ali Mustafa.” At the event, Al-Khairi stated that “the time has come to recognize those who contributed to the steadfastness of Gaza in its war against the Zionist enemy, namely Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, headed by Hezbollah.”
  • According to a 2002 CNN article, Khairi was the head of the PFLP political bureau.
  • According to a 2013 AusAID document, Bashir al Khairi was “convicted of terrorist offences in 1969 and gaoled for 15 years.”
  • In statements in 2012 and 2014, the PFLP referred to Al-Khairi as an “historic leader,” a “comrade,” and a “leader.”
  • Khairi was arrested in 2010 and 2011. According to an article in Arabic language media, in 2010, Al-Khairi was arrested by the IDF along with other PFLP members. The article refers to him as being a member of the PFLP’s National Council.
  • Al-Khairi also served on the PFLP-tied NGO Addameer’s Board of Directors.

Ahmad Sufan

Member of UAWC’s Board of Directors until at least 2012.10

  • According to Palestinian media, in 2014, “The members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Sufan and Yasin Farraj were arrested.”
  • Sufan was also arrested in 2012.

Muhammad Nujum 

Manager of UAWC’s Jericho office, apparently in  20122018.

Fouad Abu Seif

Director of UAWC’s Operations and Development Department until at least 2012.11

  • According to Ma’an News Agency, on July 26, 2012, the “Israeli occupation forces at dawn arrested the Director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees Operations and Development Department, Fouad Abu Seif…”
  • UAWC “denounced” Abu Seif’s arrest.

Mu’ayyad Bashart

UAWC’s Jericho Project Coordinator until at least 2012.12

Rezeq Al-Barghothy

Chairman of UAWC’s Board of Directors.13

Al-Bargothy participating in sit-in “in solidarity” with Palestinian prisoners who were on a hunger strike. Source: Al-Ayyam, June, 29, 2016 : http://www.al-ayyam.ps/ar_page.php?id=111f6291y287269521Y111f6291

Jaber Qarmout

According to a May 2018 UAWC’s Facebook post, Qarmout is a member of UAWC’s administrative council.

  • In 2017 and 2016, Qarmout celebrated the “martyrdom” of his brother Zidan Qarmout with PFLP members, including a commander of the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades.
  • In 2014, Qarmout attended a graduation ceremony organized by the Progressive Student Action Front, the PFLP’s “student organization.”

Jaber Qarmout celebrating the “martyrdom” of his brother Zidan Qarmout, with PFLP members, including a commander in the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades (2017). Source: PFLP, February 25, 2017: https://tinyurl.com/ww55jl4

UAWC – Gaza Employees with Ties to the PFLP

Zakaria Bakr

UAWC’s “head of the Gaza Fisherman Committee.”14

 

Hiba Abdul Kareem

Was elected to UAWC’s Board of Directors in May 2016.15

  • The PFLP refers to Kareem as a “comrade.”
  • In August 2018, according to the PFLP, Kareem spoke at a PFLP event and “welcomed attendees” in honor of “martyr Jabhahaoui” under the slogan “going on the path of martyrdom and resistance.” Kareem’s speech further paid “tribute” to “martyrs.” According to the PFLP’s description of the event, “the hall was decorated with a number of PFLP banners, pictures of PFLP martyrs and its Secretary General, Commander Ahmed Saadat, as well as pictures of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah…”
  • In November 2017, according to the PFLP, Kareem participated in a PFLP meeting. The PFLP cites her as a “project coordinator” and refers to the speech she gave about project implementation mechanisms at the event.
  • In December 2016, according to the PFLP, Kareem was spoke at a large PFLP gathering in “memory of the martyr Sami Madi.”16 At the event, Jamil Mezher (see above) addressed the PFLP, called for “Intifada and resistance” and celebrated PFLP hijackings and attacks such as the assassination of Minister Ze’evi and the Har Nof synagogue massacre.
  • In November 2015, the PFLP referred to Kareem as a “member of the center district leadership” to help “families in need and affected by the aggression…” According to the PFLP, Kareem explained that the “campaign was carried out in conjunction with the launching of the Popular Front and the embodiment of its social and humanitarian role…”

Magdy Yaghi

Former member of UAWC’s Board of Directors (from 2010 until at least 2012). In 2019, Yaghi participated in a UAWC event.

Taghreed Jomee   

Served as a UAWC board member in 20102012.

Suliman Shahin (Shaheen)

According to his Facebook, Shahin works at UAWC Gaza.17

“Burn and Death to Israel” (Source: Suliman Shaheen, Facebook, July 8, 2014: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1489134694656822&set=pb.100006809172573.2207520000.1562136806.&type=3&theater)

“Blood = Blood #Kill_Them” (Source: Suliman Shaheen, Facebook, July 6, 2014: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1488233458080279&set=pb.100006809172573.-2207520000.1562136806.&type=3&theater)

Appendix I: UAWC Organizational Structure

Source: https://www.uawc-pal.org/Files/a1bc851a-931e-4412-9d32-9205bdb4bed6.pdf.pdf (on file with NGO Monitor).