Occupied Palestine – A number of European countries have rejected Israel’s last year designation of six Palestinian civil society organisations as terrorist groups, stressing they “will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the oPT.”
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the Spokespersons of the Foreign Ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have expressed their opposition to the Israeli designation of six Palestinian civil society organisations as “terrorist organisations.”
In a move met with widespread condemnation, on 19 October 2021, Israeli War Minister, Benny Gantz, designated six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism (Anti-Terror) Law (2016).
The Israeli War Minister office claimed that the six groups were “part of a network of organisations operating undercover in the international arena” on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian resistance group, which was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 by the US State Department.
The six groups are: Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
The Israeli military commander also outlawed all six groups under the 1945 Emergency (Defense) Regulations, declaring them “unlawful associations”.
Several UN human rights experts, civil society and development organizations, academics and more from around the world condemned, over the past months, Israel’s designations, standing in solidarity with the six Palestinian groups and increasing their support for the Palestinian cause.
The European states said in the statement, “Accusations of terrorism or links to terrorist groups must always be treated with the utmost seriousness. The designations needed therefore to be assessed carefully and extensively.”
“No substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian NGOs on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate these NGOs as ‘terrorist organizations’.”
“Should evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly,” the states stressed.
“In the absence of such evidence, we will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the oPT. A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for the two-state solution,” the states concluded the statement.
The EU Commission recently also overturned a funding ban on two of the groups — Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.