Paul Alster
Paul Alster
Israel-based print and broadcast journalist
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Scandal of UN award to Palestinian group

Rewarding a group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is yet a new low

Last week its peacekeeping force fled the Golan Heights and sought sanctuary in Israel, leaving ISIS and the Al Nusra Front in control of the Syrian buffer zone; its schools in Gaza were used to hide caches of Hamas missiles during last month’s war with Israel; and now the UN has awarded a prestigious award to a Palestinian organization closely linked to a violent terrorist group.

The news that the UN’s 2014 Equator Prize is to be awarded to the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) for its work in Gaza has been met with dismay by many in Israel as the UAWC is closely affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a violent terror organization that has committed a series of atrocities in Israel over the last four decades.

Racing against time, an appeal lodged by Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) has been sent to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, urging that the prize, due to be awarded as soon as Monday, September 22, be rescinded. Many in Israel view the UN as a joke – but this is surely one sick joke too far.

The PFLP has boasted of its assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi on October 17, 2001, and its leader, Ahmad Sadat, is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for his role in this murder. The terror organization was also responsible for the notorious Lod Airport massacre in Israel on May 30, 1972 that killed 25 people. More recently the PFLP has claimed responsibility for the 2002 bombing of Netanya market that killed three people and injured many more, the November 2004 bombing of the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv which also killed three people, and two 2012 roadside bombings close to the Gaza Strip border fence that injured a number of Israeli soldiers and seriously injured an IDF commander.

Shurat HaDin argues that direct or indirect funding of terrorist groups is recognized as illegal by both the US and EU, so the granting of a cash prize by the UN to the UAWC appears to contravene the internationally accepted restrictions on funding of terrorists.

“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,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, President of Shurat HaDin, wrote in a letter this week to the UN Secretary General.

“Accordingly, not only is the awarding of the Equator Prize to the UAWC by the United Nations unconscionable, but additionally the funding of UAWC by a U.N. agency is a violation of Chapter Seven of the United Nation’s Charter and Security Council Resolution 1373, as well as national and international law. We respectfully request that the United Nations and the Development Programme immediately desist from awarding the Equator Prize to this terrorist instrumentality.”

Shurat HaDin went on to list the following instances of members of the PFLP – some of whom Israel contends are also members of the UAWC – who have been recently convicted of terrorism offences:

• July 31, 2012 arrest of Dr. Moayad Ahmad Bisharat, the coordinator of UAWC’s Jericho office;

• July 26, 2012 arrest of Fouad Abu Saif, UAWC Director of Development and Operations;

• July 16, 2012 arrest of Mohammad Nujoom Director of the UAWC Jericho office;

• 2011 arrest and 18 month prison sentence of UAWC Board Member Ahmad Soufan;

• Arrest and conviction of UAWC leader Abdel Razzak Farraj;

• Arrest and conviction of Dr. Yousef Abdul Haq, UAWC administrative and financial director and Board member

Surely, if the UN wishes to retain even a shred of credibility, it must urgently review its award to the UAWC, do the decent thing, and rescind its decision to give an organization so closely linked to an internationally recognised terror group this prize.

Not to do so would not only pour further scorn on the UN’s contention that it is an ‘honest broker’ in the region, it would be an insult to Israel and the victims of the PFLP’s terrorist acts, and would also sully the name of those who have received the Equator Prize in the past, equating their genuine achievements with such a dubious and unworthy nominee.

About the Author
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist with a special interest in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international news websites including The Jerusalem Report, and was formerly's main Middle East correspondent. He can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster or at
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