'Insufficient Evidence': Nine EU Nations to Keep Ties With Palestinian NGOs Israel Blacklisted as Terrorist Groups

In a joint statement, the nations said the evidence Israel had provided to prove the Palestinian NGOs should be considered terror organizations is insufficient

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Office of the Palestinian NGO, Addameer, in October. Addameer was one of the NGO's declared a terror organization by Israel.
Office of the Palestinian NGO, Addameer, in October. Addameer was one of the NGO's declared a terror organization by Israel.Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN / REUTERS

Nine European countries issued a joint statement on Tuesday saying they will continue working with six Palestinian organizations that Israel outlawed last year because Israel had failed to prove its claim that they should be considered terrorist organizations.

The nine countries are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Spain and Sweden.

“No substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian NGOs,” the statement by the countries’ foreign ministries said.

“Should evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly," they added.

“In the absence of such evidence, we will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the OPT,” the statement said, referring to the Palestinian territories.

The statement also emphasized that “A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for the two-state solution."

The six NGOs are Addameer, Al-Haq, the Bisan Center for Research & Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

All nine countries fund these organizations either directly or indirectly (through foundations), making their statement especially important. Some of them had temporarily frozen funding for the NGOs while they were examining the evidence Israel provided.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed the order declaring them terrorist organizations last October. All six denied the accusation.

Israel's Foreign Ministry previously told Haaretz that European consent wasn’t a necessary condition for implementing the order and that it expected Europe to refrain from funding groups Israel had blacklisted as terrorist organizations.

Consequently, if the countries do resume funding the NGOs, they may run into obstacles from Israel.

Diplomats from six countries told Haaretz in recent months that Israel had sent them information intended to prove its claims through both diplomatic and intelligence channels.

“It's simple, we were given evidence, and we did not find it to be compelling enough,” one diplomat said. Another said the evidence “does not meet the required threshold of proof” that the NGOs were transferring money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as Israel claimed.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants welcomed the position, saying in a statement that the decision is a step in the right direction, and that it is made in the face of Israeli attempts to silence Palestinian civil society. The ministry also called on the international community not to be drawn into Israeli classifications, decisions and laws - calling them tools of the occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, also welcomed the nine countries’ statement.

“From the start, it was clear that these declarations were meant to serve extraneous goals, and that the defense establishment had no evidence of terrorist activity by these organizations,” it said.

“A country that declares human rights organizations to be terrorist organizations and abuses counterterrorism legislation to harm its critics is acting like a tyrant.”

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