The Israel Law Center, a civil rights group, sent legal warnings on Wednesday to
two Australian organizations, World Vision Australia and AusAID, accusing them
of providing financial aid to a Gaza-based terrorist group.
Palestinian organization, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC),
lists World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy group, and
AusAID, the Australian government agency for managing the country’s overseas aid
program, as its supporters.
The Israel Law Center said the UAWC, which
maintains offices in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, is a front for terror
group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The center’s director,
attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and Australian solicitor Andrew Hamilton
co-signed the warning letters, which ask World Vision and AusAID to provide
written confirmation that they will permanently discontinue their support for
Darshan-Leitner and Hamilton warned that continuing such
support could expose both groups to criminal prosecution under Australian and US
law, as well as civil liability to victims of PFLP-sponsored terror.
Union of Agricultural Work Committees is an integral part of the proscribed
terror organization, the PFLP, that Australian citizens and corporations are
prohibited from providing support to,” said Hamilton on Wednesday.
providing aid to the UAWC, organizations such as World Vision and AusAID are in
fact aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism, and thereby violating Australian
and United States anti-terrorism laws.”
affiliated with the PFLP established the UAWC in 1986, in response to the
formation of the Fatah-affiliated agricultural relief committee, the Technical
Center for Agricultural Services. While both relief committees declared
themselves to be interested only in agricultural development, both later
admitted being political and ideological.
A search by The Jerusalem Post
revealed that the PLFP’s Arabic language website includes detailed reports on
the UAWC’s work, the most recent of which is dated February 2.
official UAWC conference in Ramallah last year, PFLP spokesman Ali Jaradat
joined representatives from Fatah and other Palestinian groups in saying that
“Palestinian land [is] under fierce attack from the Israeli occupation,” Maan
News’ Arabiclanguage site reported. The PLFP also vocally supported a UAWC
protest outside the UN headquarters in Gaza City last year in response to the
UN’s Palmer Report into the blockade of Gaza, with PFLP central committee member
Imad Abu Rahma dubbing the blockade an “international crime,” according the
PFLP’s Arabic-language Facebook page.
In its letters, the Israel Law
Center warned the two organizations that by providing financial and material
support for the UAWC, they could fall foul of strict antiterror
“The PLFP’s funding is shared and distributed among its family of
institutions, including the UAWC. The PLFP is the controlling hand of the UAWC
and PLFP members form the executive of the organization,” the center said in the
The Australian government lists the PFLP as a proscribed
terrorist group under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, section 21,
which states it is an offense for an individual or a corporate body to directly
or indirectly make an asset available to a proscribed person or
The PFLP is also officially designated by the US as a “Foreign
Terror Organization” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a
“Specially Designated Global Terrorist” under a presidential executive
“By providing financial aid to the UAWC, World Vision directly or
indirectly makes assets available to the PLFP,” the center continued. “This is
illegal even if the source of this money is an Australian government aid program
as section 23 of the act provides that it prevails over any other
The center warned that US law is also very strict regarding aiding
and abetting terrorism.
It cites a recent US Supreme Court ruling known
as Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which held that providing any assistance
or support to designated terrorist groups is criminal. The court found that even
ostensibly benign support to terrorist groups is criminal, because that support
can be used for nefarious means: “Material support meant to promote peaceable,
lawful conduct can be diverted to advance terrorism in multiple ways,” the court
said in its ruling.
World Vision Australia’s and AusAID’s support for the
UAWC “constitutes the type of seemingly innocuous material that rendered your
organization and you personally criminally and civilly reliable under Australian
and United States law,” the center’s letter notes.
Both World Vision
Australia and AusAID did not respond by press time to requests from the Post to
comment on the letter.