Israeli raids on Palestinian NGOs unacceptable, says EU

Bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the organisations play an important role in upholding the right to freedom of expression in occupied territories

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a free and strong civil society was indispensable in promoting democratic values. AP
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The EU is deeply concerned by Israel's recent raids on six Palestinian civil society organisations operating in the occupied West Bank, the bloc's foreign policy chief has said.

Josep Borrell said a free and strong civil society was indispensable in promoting democratic values and the push for a two-state solution.

“The EU is committed to its continued support to civil society that contributes to this purpose and to confidence-building between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said on Tuesday.

“It stands firm with non-governmental organisations to uphold the right to freedom of expression and association in the occupied territories.”

The Israeli military said last Thursday that it had conducted overnight raids at the premises of seven organisations in Ramallah, the West Bank city where the Palestinian Authority's headquarters is located.

After the raids, the Israeli government forced the NGOs to close.

The groups raided were the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al Haq, the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Defence for Children International-Palestine, Health Work Committees, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees.

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Last October, six of the raided NGOs were designated as terrorist organisations by Israel owing to their alleged links to the leftist militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), although Israeli officials have not publicly shared any evidence of the links.

The organisations have all denied having any links to the PFLP, which many western nations have designated as a terrorist group.

Mr Borrell said Israel had yet to provide substantial information that would justify an EU policy review of the six NGOs it labelled as terrorist organisations.

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“It is crucial to ensure that anti-terrorism legislation does not lead to undermining civil society and its valuable work and contributions to building fairer and more peaceful societies,” said Mr Borrell.

“The EU supports the call by the UN agencies on Israel to refrain from any action that would prevent these organisations from continuing their critical human rights, humanitarian and development work in the occupied territories.”

Updated: August 24, 2022, 6:28 AM