European countries continue funding Palestinian NGOs deemed terror groups, citing lack of evidence

Israel accused six Palestinian civil society groups of being arms of the PLFP terror organizations. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Nine European Union countries said they would continue funding six Palestinian organizations that Israel designated as terror groups last year, saying Tuesday that there was a lack of evidence to back up the claim.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz in October declared that half a dozen Palestinian civil society groups were being designated as terror organizations linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israelis,  including the 1976 Entebbe hijacking, the 2001 assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi and the 2014 Har Nof synagogue massacre.

The six groups – Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committee – funneled donation monies to terrorists and were bent on the “liberation of ‘Palestine’ and the destruction of Israel,” Gantz said at the time.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the foreign ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said they had not received “substantial information” from Israel that would justify reviewing their policy.

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“Accusations of terrorism or links to terrorist groups must always be treated with the utmost seriousness. The designations needed therefore to be assessed carefully and extensively,” the countries said.

“Should evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly,” they said. “In the absence of such evidence, we will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the Palestinian territories.”

“A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for the two-state solution,” the statement concluded.

After Gantz’s announcement, watchdog group NGO Monitor said that the six groups were “deeply involved in political warfare against Israel.”

The move sparked a backlash from the U.S., UN and several rights groups, as well as from the Palestinian Authority, which said it constituted an “unprecedented assault” on Palestinian society.

The U.S. demanded an explanation for the move, while progressive Democrats, including Squad members Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), introduced a House resolution condemning Israel for banning the six organizations.

One of the most prominent cases of NGO money financing terrorism is Rina Shnerb’s murder, which occurred in August 2019. Shnerb, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, was killed by a roadside bomb near Dolev while hiking with her father and brother.

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Samer Arbid, the financial director of the Agricultural Work Committee, one of the designated NGOs, was accused of leading the terror cell responsible for the deadly attack.

The Shin Bet security agency last May arrested four people, including a Spanish citizen, on suspicion of funneling European funds to the PFLP.

In February of this year, five out of the six Palestinian NGOs filed a motion in a Judea and Samaria military court requesting that the removal of the terror label.