WORLD Vision has until next week to stop funding a Gaza-based charity that an Israeli civil-rights group claims is a front for terror, or face legal action.
Israeli civil-rights group Shurat HaDin has alleged that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) – which the Australian government’s foreign-aid arm, AusAID, funds through World Vision Australia – is a subsidiary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The PFLP has a history of hijackings and suicide bombings, and was listed as a terrorist organisation by the Australian government in 2001.
Shurat HaDin solicitor Andrew Hamilton maintained this week that World Vision’s investigations into the matter have been unsatisfactory, and confirmed that legal action is imminent.
“This is the final little warning letter,” he said of correspondence sent to the charity at the weekend.
A letter sent to Shurat HaDin by World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello last month rejected Hamilton’s claims that the charity’s investigations had not been thorough.
“We are disappointed by Shurat HaDin’s ongoing claims … which in our view remain unsubstantiated and, in some circumstances, defamatory,” he wrote.
“Mr Hamilton has no basis for his assertion that we had not undertaken what would be the most basic of research. We have, in fact, done much more than that.”
But Hamilton remains convinced that World Vision is “misleading the Australian public”.
“Threats of defamation in an attempt to silence the truth are a very bad look for an organisation supposedly dedicated to doing good,” Hamilton said.
“They’ve had six months to research this properly themselves and to find actual evidence, and they’ve just come back with incorrect assumptions, assertions and a failure to find things that I found in a week.”
Shurat HaDin has now given World Vision Australia until October 15 to stop funding the UAWC before it commences proceedings in the Federal Court for breaches of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, as well as claims for misleading and deceptive conduct.
“We’ve now given them all the detailed evidence,” Hamilton said.
“All that information is there, so that will maybe take them a little while to digest; I think it will be a rather unpalatable meal for them.
“Let’s see if they finally wake up and realise the game is up, and that they should stop this behaviour of funding a terrorist front group, and that they’ve got no more excuses.”
A UAWC demonstration.