The European Union "takes very seriously" Israel's designation of six Palestinian organizations as terrorist entities and will seek further information from Israeli authorities, it said in a statement on Thursday.
The EU "exercises maximum diligence" to avoid financing or supporting terrorist groups, and past accusations that Palestinian civil society groups were misusing EU funds remain unsubstantiated, the statement said.
The statement also warned that labeling the groups has "far-reaching consequences for the organizations in political, legal and financial terms," and asserted that "[a] thriving civil society and respect for fundamental freedoms" are essential components of open democracies.
The six groups designated as terror organizations – including both human rights groups and civil society groups – were Addameer, Al-Haq, the Bisan Center, Defense for Children International Palestine, The Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. A joint statement by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called the decision “appalling and unjust.” The U.S. said it had not received prior notification of the decision.
The Defense Ministry said last week that the organizations operate in a network run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group. "The groups are controlled by the senior leadership of the PFLP and employ many members of the group in jobs in both management and on the ground – including activists who were involved in terrorism," it said in a statement.
The United Nations’ human rights commissioner condemned Israel’s decision on Tuesday, saying it should be immediately reversed.
Israel’s move was “an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation,” wrote High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. Bachelet’s statement said the organizations designated as terror groups “are some of the most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory and for decades have worked closely with the UN.”