Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that his decision to categorize six Palestinian civil society groups as terror organizations was based in part on information that known terrorists were on their payrolls without actually working for them.
Gantz's announcement in October that the groups had been designated terror groups said they operate in a network run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Why Christians are vanishing from all across the Middle East. LISTEN to Haaretz podcast
In a response issued Wednesday by Gantz to a formal query by Meretz party lawmakers Gaby Lasky, Mossi Raz and Michal Rozin, he wrote that defense officials had discovered that the NGOs had let meetings of PFLP members take place in their offices and that PFLP members controlled management of the NGOs and coordinated between them.
The six groups are Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center, Defense for Children International Palestine, The Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.
After Gantz's declaration, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price denied Israeli claims that the U.S. was provided with advance notice of the move.
In November, the European Union's foreign policy chief said Israel had still not provided evidence that the six organizations were terrorist entities nearly a month after it declared them as such.
Designating them as terror organizations effectively rendered the six groups, all recipients of EU funding, unable to operate in the West Bank.
- What donor states should tell Israel when it asks them to bail out the Palestinians
- Spaniard Israel claimed was tied to six blacklisted Palestinian NGOs is not, military court says
- Israel hasn't provided evidence on labeling of Palestinian NGOs, EU foreign minister says
Meanwhile, the United Nations' development and humanitarian agencies and a group representing more than 80 international NGOs called the decision "a further erosion of civic and humanitarian space."