Palestinian rights groups see a muzzle in Israel’s terror tag

By The Associated Press

Ramallah: Activists said on Saturday they hope an international response will help Israel reverse the designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, a label that effectively outlaws them.

Two of the six groups said they would not be forced to go underground despite the uncertainty of their new position, which would see Israel raiding the groups’ offices, seizing property, arresting employees, and using expressions of money and support. allow criminals to be made. Activists said they wanted to challenge Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s decision.

Israel’s terror label for six groups, some of which receive European funding, have stunned the United States and Europe. This could force them to choose a side, at a time when efforts to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state with Israel have failed hopelessly. Over the years, the US and European Union have focused largely on conflict management, including strengthening Palestinian civil society, while the Palestinians seek to seek their statehood on occupied lands to halt their ongoing settlement venture into Israel. But not putting open pressure.

Israel alleged that the six groups are a front for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small, secular, leftist movement with both a political party and an armed faction that has carried out deadly attacks against Israel.

Rights activists have denounced Israel’s terrorism designation, a coercion to prevent groups from documenting rights abuses by the increasingly authoritarian Palestinian Autonomous Government in the occupied territories, primarily by Israel, but also in the occupied West Bank. as effort.

“We expect the international community to put enough pressure on Israel to back down,” said Ubai Aboudi, head of the Bison Center for Research and Development, one of the target groups.

Bisan and al-Haq, the oldest of the Palestinian rights group, said they had no contact with Israeli officials since the decision was announced on Friday. Bisson and al-Haq denied any links to the PFLP, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the West.

The initial international response has ranged from frosty to acutely critical.

The US, Israel’s closest ally, said it had not been warned about the decision in advance and would seek more information. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that “we believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are vital to responsible and accountable governance.”

The UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said on Saturday that the reasons cited by Israel’s defense minister were “vague or irrelevant” and denounced his decision as the latest step in a “long stigmatization campaign” against the organisations.

The EU delegation to the Palestinian territories acknowledged financing activities by some groups. It said previous allegations of misappropriation of EU funds by the partners “have not been confirmed” but that it takes the matter seriously and is looking into it.

“EU funding to Palestinian civil society organizations is an important element of our support for the two-state solution,” it said on Friday.

Israel has consistently accused rights groups and the international community of isolating it while ignoring violations by other countries.

Bisan and al-Haq both accused the Israeli government of making previous attempts to stigmatize their organizations. Al-Haq director Shawn Jabreen told The Associated Press that Israel’s foreign ministry had previously asked foreign diplomats to lobby against his organization.

Aboudi, the head of Bisan, confirmed that he had previously been accused by Israel of being a member of the PFLP, but denies being a member of the group.

The other four groups targeted by Israel include prisoner rights group Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Federation of Palestinian Women’s Societies and Federation of Agricultural Action Committees. Most organizations target human rights violations by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority, both of which regularly detain Palestinian activists.

The statement from the Ministry of Defense was published during the Israeli and Palestinian weekend. Representatives for the other targeted organizations were not immediately available for comment.

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