Israel names 6 Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations: NPR
Majdi Mohammed / AP
RAMALLAH, West Bank – Activists said on Saturday they hoped an international response would help reverse Israel’s designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, a label that effectively bans them.
Two of the six groups said they would not be forced into hiding despite the uncertainty of their new status, which would allow Israel to raid the groups’ offices, seize assets, arrest employees and to criminalize funding and expressions of support. The activists said they were seeking to challenge the decision of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Israel’s terrorist label for the six groups, some of which receive European funding, appears to have caught the United States and Europe off guard. This could force them to choose a side, at a time when efforts to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel are hopelessly bogged down. For years the US and EU have largely focused on conflict management, including strengthening Palestinian civil society, without exerting overt pressure on Israel to end its settlement enterprise. ongoing on occupied land Palestinians seek for their state.
Israel has alleged that the six groups are a front for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small left-wing secular movement with both a political party and an armed faction that has carried out deadly attacks against the Israelis.
Majdi Mohammed / AP
Rights activists have denounced Israel’s terrorism designation as a blatant attempt to prevent groups from documenting rights violations in the occupied territories, primarily by Israel, but also by the increasingly self-governing Palestinian government. authoritarian in the occupied West Bank.
“We hope that the international community will put enough pressure on Israel to back down,” said Ubai Aboudi, head of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, one of the target groups.
Bisan and Al-Haq, the longest-serving Palestinian rights group, said they had not had contact with Israeli authorities since the decision was announced on Friday. Bisan and Al-Haq have denied having any ties to the PFLP, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and Western countries.
The initial international response has ranged from freezing to very critical.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, said it had not been given advance notice of the decision and would ask for more information. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday that “we believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are of crucial importance for responsible governance and reactive “.
The UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said on Saturday that the reasons given by the Israeli defense minister were “vague or irrelevant,” and denounced his decision as the latest measure to be taken. ‘a “long campaign of stigmatization” against the organizations.
The delegation of the European Union in the Palestinian territories acknowledged funding for the activities of some of the groups. He said past allegations of misuse of EU funds by partners “have not been substantiated”, but takes the issue seriously and examines it.
âEU funding for Palestinian civil society organizations is an important part of our support for the two-state solution,â he said on Friday.
Israel has continuously accused rights groups and the international community of singling it out while ignoring violations committed by other countries.
Bisan and Al-Haq accuse the Israeli government of already trying to tarnish their organizations. Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq, told The Associated Press that Israel’s Foreign Ministry has previously called on foreign diplomats to lobby against his organization.
Aboudi, the leader of Bisan, confirmed that he was previously accused by Israel of being a member of the PFLP but denies ever having been a member of the group.
The other four groups targeted by Israel include the prisoners’ rights groups Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Working Committees. The majority of organizations target human rights violations by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority, both of which regularly detain Palestinian activists.
The defense ministry statement was released over the Israeli and Palestinian weekend. Representatives of other targeted organizations were not immediately available for comment.