Middle East Monitor / August 20, 2022
Nine European countries on Friday expressed their “deep concern” after the Israeli army closed the offices of Palestinian NGOs in the occupied West Bank, accusing them of being “terrorist” organizations.
In a joint statement, spokespersons for the nine countries’ foreign ministries wrote: “We are deeply concerned by the raids which took place in the morning of 18 August, as part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society.”
“These actions are not acceptable,” noted the statement.
The countries expressing their concerns include Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden.
On Thursday at dawn, Israeli forces raided the city of Ramallah in the West Bank and closed the offices of seven Palestinian human rights NGOs.
The raid included six NGOs designated as “terrorist organizations” in 2021, as well as the Union of Health Work Committees, which, according to Israel, is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The nine European countries stressed: “A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution.”
The statement added: “No substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian NGOs on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate these NGOs as ‘terrorist organizations’,” noting that if convincing evidence is presented to the contrary, the countries will take action accordingly.
In October 2021, the Israeli government announced that it had added six Palestinian NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to its list of terrorist organizations. This decision was heavily criticized by human rights organizations.
All the organizations denied having links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The US also expressed its “concern” regarding the measure.