CIA unable to corroborate Israel’s 'terror' designation of 6 Palestinian NGOs, report says

US intelligence agency reportedly says Israel 'doesn’t say that the groups are guilty of anything' in classified document

Israel claimed the groups are fronts for the paramilitary group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Getty Images
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The CIA is unable to validate or confirm Israel’s designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organisations as terror groups, according to a classified report.

Last year, Israel added six Palestinian NGOs — Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Al Haq; the Bisan Centre for Research and Development; Defence for Children International-Palestine; the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees — to its list of terror organisations.

It claimed they are fronts for the paramilitary group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

But British newspaper The Guardian, quoting a classified CIA report, said the intelligence agency was “unable to find any evidence to support Israel’s decision to label six prominent Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups.”

Israel had shared intelligence with the US regarding its assessment, but the CIA report refutes it, declaring it “doesn’t say that the groups are guilty of anything”.

Last week, Israeli forces raided the offices of all six groups in the West Bank, confiscating computers and sealing off property.

The US State Department voiced concern over the raid and is seeking further information from Israel.

“We have conveyed the message that there must be a very high bar to take action against civil society organisations,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday.

“Our Israeli partners in turn have conveyed back to us that they have met that high bar.”

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Washington will “carefully review the information that they [Israeli authorities] have pledged to provide”.

“We will form a conclusion, on the basis of that information. We don’t have that information yet,” Mr Price added.

“We have seen nothing in recent months that has caused us to change our approach to or position on these particular organisations.”

The European Union took a firmer stance against the raids, with its ambassador to Israel saying they were "not acceptable" in a tweet posted after meetings with Israeli authorities.

The CIA was not immediately available for comment.

The US has long claimed a special relationship with Israel and has reinforced that alliance through billions of dollars in military funding.

In 2020 alone, the US provided Israel with $146 billion in military, economic and missile defence aid. A 2019 Pew Research poll found that Israelis believe the US is their strongest ally.

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But a recent US study found that Americans do not share their government’s interest in supporting Israel.

“Whatever the causes, the gap on Israel/Palestine between the public and elected congressional officials remains high,” a University of Maryland Critical Issues poll noted in its analysis for the non-partisan Brookings Institution think tank.

In fact, more than half of those surveyed indicated they “didn’t know” how they felt about the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

And despite the mostly bipartisan support for Israel among congressional leaders and other Washington officials, public opinion is polarised among Americans who do have an opinion on the issue.

Twenty-six per cent of Democrats said they believe US President Joe Biden's administration is more pro-Israel than they are, compared to 44 per cent of Republicans who said they believe the White House is more pro-Palestinian than they are.

Despite Americans' strong opposition in general to movements such as “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” — a campaign aiming to end international support for Israel — the study found a general apathy among a majority of Americans on Israel-Palestine.

It did, however, note a growing pro-Palestinian sentiment among young Democratic voters.

“The gap between the Biden administration and the Democratic public on Israel/Palestine remains wide — and the public perceives it,” the report said.

“The Israel-Palestinian issue is not currently a priority in American politics.”

Updated: August 23, 2022, 3:44 AM
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