AN Israeli civil rights centre alleging a Palestinian group funded by Canberra has terrorism links is standing by its findings, despite claims such ties do not exist.
Shurat HaDin now plans to release its report to Israeli authorities. The issue was raised by Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby in a meeting with Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr last month and also by Senator Michael Ronaldson in a letter to the minister.
But Carr said last Thursday that an AusAID investigation of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) found “no evidence” the NGO violated United Nations anti-terrorism clauses. The Foreign Minister said UAWC “is officially registered in Israel itself. It is not banned by Israel or declared a terrorist organisation by the Israelis.”
In a May 31 statement, Carr said the Australian government Solicitor’s Office advised no offence was identified and the Australian Federal Police indicated it would not investigate Shurat HaDin’s allegations further.
The Senator said World Vision, through which Australian aid flows to UAWC, helps raise Palestinians from hunger and poverty. “That can only reduce the capacity of terrorists to win recruits.”
Regular reporting by UAWC and World Vision and regular monitoring by AusAID confirmed appropriate due diligence and fiduciary risk management processes were being implemented, he said. But Shurat HaDin attorney Andrew Hamilton this week rejected these findings, claiming there was a “whitewash” of “the clear and undisputed facts that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees was established by, is controlled by, shares its assets with and acts in concert with the illegal terrorist organisation, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP].”
Hamilton contradicted Carr’s claim that “since 1996, UAWC has been registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Israeli Ministry of Justice. This registration was most recently renewed on 5 March 2012”.
Hamilton said: “Shurat HaDin and others have conducted extensive searches of the Israeli not-for-profit register and neither ‘UAWC’ or ‘Union of Agricultural Work Committees’ are listed.” Hamilton also denied Carr’s claim that “the government of Israel has made a decision that this organisation [the UAWC] will not be proscribed”.
Hamilton said Israel has not conducted any investigation of the links between the UAWC and the PFLP due to jurisdiction, as the funding originates in Australia and ends up in Gaza. “It has not been provided with Shurat HaDin’s dossier of evidence because there is no evidence of any Israeli organisation funding the UAWC.”
However, he said because of Carr’s rejection of Shurat HaDin’s claims, the organisation will now turn over its dossier to Israeli authorities.
“Senator Carr … is accountable under Australian law to the Australian people,” said Hamilton. “Shurat HaDin will continue to take steps to enforce Australian law to prevent Australian taxpayer funds being used to fund a group that is clearly an arm of the illegal PFLP terrorist organisation that as recently as last month was involved in attempts to kidnap and murder Jewish women and children.”