Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced earlier on Friday that half a dozen civil society groups were designated as terrorist organizations, saying they had indeed served as an arm for the Popular Front terrorist group for the liberation of the Palestine. The move sparked a swift reaction around the world, with the European Union, the Palestinian Authority, progressive Democrats, American Jewish groups and international human rights organizations voicing their criticism.
The United States “will engage our Israeli partners for more information on the basis of these designations,” Ned Price said in a telephone briefing with reporters.
“The Israeli government did not warn us in advance” that Palestinian groups would be blacklisted, he added.
“We believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are of crucial importance for responsible and responsive governance,” said Price.
The State Department spokesman also condemned Israel for its recently published plans to push forward plans to build thousands of settlement units across the West Bank.
Previously, the UN and the European Union had separately raised doubts about Israel’s reasoning for blacklists.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price pauses during a speech at a State Department briefing in Washington, July 7, 2021 (AP Photo / Alex Brandon, File )
“The designation decisions issued by Israel’s National Counter-Terrorism Office list extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including quite peaceful and legitimate activities such as providing legal aid and “Promotion of measures against Israel on the international scene”, according to the UN. The Human Rights Office in Ramallah indicted.
An EU statement noted that “past allegations of misuse of EU funds in relation to some of our Palestinians [civil society organization] partners were not justified.
The six organizations named by Gantz’s office are among the most prominent rights groups in Palestinian civil society. Many have received considerable funding in the form of grants from EU Member States and the United Nations, among other donors.
These include the Palestinian rights organization Al-Haq, Addameer, which represents Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli military courts, Defense for Children-International, a group that defends Palestinian children, as well as the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Bisan Research and Advocacy Center, and Union of Agricultural Working Committees.
Israeli military and civil laws prohibit supporting or joining a terrorist group, and violators can face years in prison. The Israeli authorities can also seize property belonging to terrorist organizations and prohibit the financing of their activities; donors can also face significant prison sentences.
Israeli authorities have previously accused the PFLP of stealing millions of euros from civil society organizations affiliated with its members to fund terrorist activities. In May, the Shin Bet arrested four suspects, including a Spanish citizen, who allegedly funneled EU funds to the PFLP.