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Coveney 'concerned' over Israel's labelling of Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations

The EU is seeking clarification from Israeli authorities

Image: Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney has said today he is “concerned” after six Palestinian NGOs were designated terrorist organisations by Israel’s Defence Ministry, including several which receive Irish and EU funding. 

Israel has said the move was due to their alleged financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

It accused the six organisations of working covertly with the leftist militant group, which spearheaded plane hijackings in the 1970s to highlight the Palestinian cause and is blacklisted by several Western governments.

In a statement this morning, Coveney said Ireland and the EU were not aware of the designations before they were made on October 22, and “have not received detailed evidence”.

Ireland is “committed to funding civil society organisations and human rights defenders through the Irish Aid programme, including Palestinian civil society,” he added

The minister’s statement also said that The EU is in touch with Israeli authorities to seek clarification.

No evidence

Coveney stated that Ireland “maintains robust checks to ensure that our funding is used only for the purpose intended,” and that previous allegations against NGOs in the “occupied Palestinian territory which are supported by Ireland and the EU have not been substantiated.”

UN human rights high commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Israel’s decision was an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and called for the move to be immediately revoked.

Like Coveney, she added that no evidence has been provided to support the accusations against the six groups, nor had any public process been conducted to establish the allegations.

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“The organisations … face far-reaching consequences as a result of this arbitrary decision, as do the people who fund them and work with them,” said Bachelet.

“The crucial work they perform for thousands of Palestinians risks being halted or severely restricted,” she said, adding the decision would have “a chilling effect” on human rights defenders.

“Terrorism is a very serious issue, and must be addressed with both resolve and with evidence,” said Coveney.

He added: “As stated by UN human rights experts in their statement of 25 October: ‘anti-terrorism legislation is designed for a specific and restricted purpose, and must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organisations.’”

Additional reporting by AFP

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