U.S. Seeks Clarification After Israel Labels Six Palestinian NGOs as Terror Groups

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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A girl wearing a protective face mask and the headband of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza City, last year.
A girl wearing a protective face mask and the headband of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza City, in 2020.Credit: REUTERS
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said it will seek clarification from Israel over its decision to declare six civil society organizations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations, in perhaps the Biden administration's harshest public rebuke of Israel since taking office.

"We’ll be engaging our Israelis partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said while noting that "the Israeli government did not give us advance warning."

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"We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance," Price said.

Price added that the U.S. believes human rights organizations and civil society are of critical importance for good governance.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has signed an order declaring six civil society organizations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price in June.Credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/ REUTERS

A statement by the Defense Ministry said that the organizations operate in a network run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group.

Some of these groups operate as human rights organizations: Addameer offers legal support to prisoners and collects data on arrests and administrative detentions, and actively works to end torture and violations of prisoners' rights. Defense for Children International Palestine monitors the killings of children and the wellbeing of arrested children in Israel.

The NGOs also include a women's rights organization and an agricultural labor association.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates "unequivocally condemned" on Friday Gantz's decision.

"This fallacious and libelous slander is a strategic assault on Palestinian civil society and the Palestinian people’s fundamental right to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation and expose its continuing crimes," a statement by the ministry said. 

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