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After US criticism, Israel says US knew of outlawing Palestinian civil society groups

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Israel made public its move to outlaw six Palestinian civil society groups on Friday. (file)

Jerusalem:

Israel said on Saturday that the United States was informed in advance of its decision to designate six Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist organizations” following criticism from the State Department.

The Israeli Defense Ministry made public on Friday its move to effectively exclude six major Palestinian civil society groups over alleged links with the popular Palestinian Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group blacklisted by several Western governments. had gone.

The decision was swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Authority and international human rights groups, with the US saying it would “involve our Israeli partners for more information” about the basis of these designations.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that the “Israeli government did not give us advance warning” that the groups would be designated.

But an Israeli Defense Ministry official said on Saturday that “US administration officials had been updated ahead of time,” and that “some intelligence on the subject was shared.”

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, reiterated links between the six groups and the PFLP, including “forged documents aimed at raising donations” for the left-wing group that pioneered plane hijackings in the 1970s.

The six groups “facilitated the recruitment of activists into the military wing of the PFLP,” the official said, essentially constituting a “lifeline for the PFLP as fundraising, money-laundering and recruitment of activists”.

The ministry named the groups as Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Admir, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Union of Agricultural Works Committees (UAWC). .

In May, Israeli authorities informed European donors of their alleged financial misconduct, which occurred in parallel with their legitimate work, and reportedly funneled millions of euros to PFLP terrorist activities.

Al-Haq chief Shawan Jabreen said Israel’s move was part of a long-term campaign “targeted to silence and intimidate Palestinian institutions”.

“We are a professional organization, a human rights organization, with 42 years of field work,” he told AFP on Saturday.

Jabreen claimed that Israel could not face the legal challenges posed by al-Haq, and is therefore “challenging us in the field by assassination, bombing, lockout and destruction.”

“We expect the countries that officially support us to take a clear stand,” he said. “It is time for a serious and strong stand against (Israel) which does not recognize international law and does not comply with humanitarian rules.”

Israel’s move was also condemned on Saturday by dozens of Israel-based rights groups advocating for Palestinian rights.

So-called “Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel” said the move was intended to “intimidate” donors, claiming that “misleading information” was behind the decision.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, some 30 employees of international NGOs, including eight new group heads, were stranded abroad waiting for permits to enter Israel, AFP has learned.

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