Israel Calls Six Palestinian Civil Society Groups “Terrorists”, Defying International Donors – .

Israel Calls Six Palestinian Civil Society Groups “Terrorists”, Defying International Donors – .

Groups include Al Haq, one of the West Bank’s oldest human rights organizations, and Defense of Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), which documents violations of children’s rights.

A statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry said the six “constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the” Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], ‘to support its activity and pursue its objectives. “

The statement accused the groups of masquerading as civil society organizations when in fact, it said, they were controlled by the banned PFLP and employed many PFLP activists.

He said the groups amounted to fundraising entities for the PFLP, especially through receiving donations from European countries and international organizations.

Al Haq chief executive Shawan Jabarin told CNN the accusations were “absurd.”
“It is a political and not a security gesture. [Israel’s] the occupation has no limits to its injustice and its folly. But that will never stop us from defending our people and exposing the crimes of the occupation, ”he said.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which enjoys limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, called the announcement “unbalanced.”

“This spurious and defamatory slander is a strategic attack on Palestinian civil society and the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation and expose its continuing crimes,” read a statement from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Friday afternoon that Washington was seeking more information from Israel based on the designations, adding that the United States had not been warned in advance that an announcement was coming.

The Israeli government’s decision poses a challenge for the many European countries that fund the six organizations, which, in addition to Al Haq and DCI-P, include Addameer, the Bisan Center, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Committees. agricultural work.

European governments, many of whom are seeking to turn a page in their relations with Israel after the installation of the new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, now risk being accused of terrorist financing if they continue to fund the six groups.

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A senior European official working in the region admitted that the move was likely to put pressure on donor decision-making, but said there had to be an analysis of any evidence offered by Israel.

“Let’s see what evidence is provided by the Defense Ministry to support the designations of these NGOs. We have heard similar accusations repeatedly against some of these NGOs and they have never been substantiated, so it could be fake news designed to dissuade European donors from funding Palestinian human rights organizations ”, the official told CNN.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which partners with NGOs, echoed the criticism and said the designations listed “extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful activities and legitimate ”as justification for the terrorist label. Al Haq, for example, is described in the official announcement as “engaged on behalf of the [PFLP] in promoting measures against Israel on the international stage.

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The PFLP is a secular and nationalist entity, dating from the 1960s. It is the second largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization after Fatah and calls for the liberation of all historic Palestine.

The European Union and the United States have designated it as a terrorist organization after attacks on Israeli targets. Its alleged links to Palestinian non-governmental organizations are at the center of pressure groups like NGO Monitor, which has been hailed by at least one Israeli lawmaker for securing the new terrorist designations.

Critics, however, say the real reason for attempts to link NGOs to the PFLP is to discredit Palestinian dissent, a sentiment expressed in a joint statement by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“For decades, the Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its regime for its repressive Palestinians. The response of the international community will be a real test of its determination to protect human rights defenders, ”the statement said.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting.


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