Australian NGO resumes support of Gaza group

Law Center had told World Vision it was ‘abetting terror’ by supporting PLFP-affiliated group.

Palestinains rally for the PFLP 390 (photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
Palestinains rally for the PFLP 390
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
An Australian NGO said on Thursday that it has resumed funding Gazabased organization UAWC, following a legal warning last month that it was providing financial aid to a Palestinian terrorist group.
The move came after civil rights group the Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin) sent a warning letter to World Vision Australia, a Christian child advocacy group, after the Union of Agricultural Work Committees listed it as a supporter.
AusAID, an Australian government agency, received a similar letter.
Law Center director attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Australian solicitor Andrew Hamilton said in the letters that the UAWC is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s agricultural organization and as such is an agency of the terrorist organization. The UAWC has offices in Gaza City.
The letters warned that by supporting UAWC, World Vision was “aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism, and thereby violating Australian and United States anti-terrorism laws.”
The Australian government recognizes the PFLP as a proscribed terrorist group under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, according to section 21 of which it is an offense for an individual or a body corporate to directly or indirectly make an asset available to a proscribed person or entity.
World Vision Australia spokeswoman Chloe Adams said in a statement on Thursday that the NGO had suspended its funding of UAWC following the Law Center’s letter, but that after conducting an investigation into the allegations it has now decided to resume its support.
“It has been found that the claims are unfounded and there is no impediment to WVA resuming its partnership with UAWC. UAWC is a nonprofit company that is registered with the Israeli Ministry of Justice,” Adams said.
World Vision said it had emailed the Law Center on February 29, requesting further information to back up the claims made in the warning letter, but that it had not received a response.
“As of Wednesday, March 7, World Vision will recommence activities under the AMENCA project. This project is contributing to the improvement of the lives of more than 1,970 households, including 7,880 children in north and south Gaza through agricultural and economic development,” Adams said. “As a child-focused organization, World Vision is committed to serving the world’s most vulnerable children, including these children in Gaza.”
Later on Thursday, Darshan-Leitner said the organization was “shocked that World Vision would announce it is resuming funding to the terroristaffiliated AUWC in Hamas-controlled Gaza without having done any serious investigation into our allegations.”
Darshan-Leitner said World Vision appeared unaware that USAID, the American government’s program for administering foreign aid, had identified the UAWC as being affiliated with the PFLP.
“World Vision has now been placed on notice and the next time, God forbid, their is a terror attack perpetrated anywhere in the world by the PFLP, World Vision and its individual leaders will be hit with a multi-million dollar lawsuit for aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism,” Darshan-Leitner said.
“They are simply playing roulette with innocent Jewish lives,” she added.
The Law Center said Hamilton had written to World Vision and AUSAID, citing the Freedom of Information Act and demanding that the organizations hand over details of their investigation into UAWC.
In his letter, Hamilton asks that World Vision provide all documentation received from World Vision regarding the investigation, together with details of public registers consulted over the matter.
Hamilton also asked World Vision to provide information about its funding of UAWC, including reporting on the project funded.
Palestinian agronomists affiliated with the PFLP established the UAWC in 1986, in response to the formation of the Fatah-affiliated agricultural relief committee 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.
At an 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,” Ma’an News’ Arabic-language 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.