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Palestinian terror group runs student exchange program with Europe

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees was designated a terrorist group by Israel's Defense Ministry in 2021.

Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza City on the anniversary of the killing of PFLP chief Abu Ali Mustafa, Aug. 31, 2019. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90.
Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza City on the anniversary of the killing of PFLP chief Abu Ali Mustafa, Aug. 31, 2019. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90.

A designated terrorist organization is running an international student exchange program for Palestinian students in cooperation with France and the United Kingdom, according to an Israeli NGO.

The exchange program, run by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, claims to “strengthen young people in relation to agricultural and environmental activities.” Scheduled for July, it includes visits to Marseille, Berlin and Hebron.

According to the admission criteria, priority will be given to residents of Area C, an administrative zone in Judea and Samaria controlled by Israel.

After discovering the program, Israeli NGO Regavim wrote a letter to the Israeli Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces last week demanding that immediate steps be taken.

“Israel must act immediately to block the UAWC’s ability to operate on the local and international stage to spread its terrorist agenda, and to cut off the UAWC’s ability to maintain international contacts that funnel European money to the PFLP,” the letter states.

“The Israeli government’s failure to act against the activities of this terrorist organization constitutes abandonment of territory under Israeli jurisdiction,” he said, expressing surprise that the UAWC continues to operate “openly among Palestinian students and in cooperation with foreign countries.”

Knesset member Sharren Haskel (National Unity Party) also submitted a request to the defense minister for an explanation of why a terrorist organization is being allowed to operate freely, according to Regavim. 

The Defense Ministry designated the UAWC a terrorist group in 2021, along with five other organizations.

The UAWC is tied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. UAWC’s administrative manager was charged with aiding in the murder of Rina Shnerb, 17, in the summer of 2019.

In October 2022, Israel’s designation of the UAWC as a terrorist group was rejected by nine European countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

However, the Netherlands ended its donations to the UAWC in January 2022, following an external investigation into the NGO’s links with the PFLP. Some 21.5 million euros ($24.3 million) had been donated to the UAWC before the Netherlands put funding on hold in August 2020 pending the outcome of the investigation.

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