Irish FM: ‘Israel’ hasn’t given us evidence labeling Palestinian NGOs as terror

‘Israel’ hasn’t shown Ireland or the European Union credible evidence to prove that there is substance behind its decision last week to designate six Palestinian human right NGOs as terror groups, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told Israel’s The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“We have asked for, as has the EU, the evidence basis for designating those NGOs,” he explained to The Jerusalem Post, just before heading to meet with Israeli occupation President Isaac Herzog.

But “we have not gotten any credible evidence to link the NGOs to terrorism, certainly not that I have seen,” said Coveney.

The issue is high on his agenda during his two-day visit to the occupation state, The Jerusalem Post said, because Ireland provides funding to two of the NGOs targeted by ‘Israel’: Al-Haq and Addameer.

“We have very robust systems of knowing where our money is spent and how it is spent,” Coveney explained, adding that the two groups had passed inspection by his government.

The document Israel has provided to Ireland did not make the case for such a charge, so more evidence is needed, he said.

“This isn’t the case of us accusing Israel of anything; we simply are asking the question,” Coveney said.

“Two organizations that we provide modest funding to and who are representing people predominantly in occupied territory in the West Bank have been now designated as effectively supporting terrorist organizations, and we would like to see the evidence base for that,” Coveney added.

He said that should the charge be proven to be correct, Ireland “would act on that right away… I would never allow Irish taxpayer’s money to [go toward] supporting terrorism or violence or inciting to violence.”

It is important for democratic countries like Israel to support civil society, Coveney said.

“Any functioning democracy in my view has to facilitate that civil society space of active criticism and sometimes protest.”

“We fund lots of NGOs who are very critical of me and are very critical of the Irish government. That is what NGOs do. They shake things up. They ask hard questions. They lobby on certain issues and they often protect minorities and people who can’t protect themselves,” Coveney added.

On October 22, the Israeli occupation government declared six leading Palestinian NGOs to be affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, DCI-P, Samidoun and UAWC.

Under Israeli law, membership in terror organizations is punishable by five to seven years in jail, while aiding them is punishable by five years, and praising or promoting them can result in a three-year-long jail sentence.

The Israeli law also permits authorities to confiscate any “terror organization’s” assets and limit its use of space.

The occupation state has targeted civil society dissenters for decades. In the early 2000s however, a series of right-wing organizations, funders and politicians sought to support the Israeli government’s brutal repression of Palestinians by accelerating the attack on civil society dissenters as Israel’s abuses mounted.

In the mid to late aughts, several Israeli human rights organizations came under organized attack, including groups like B’tselem, Yesh Din.

In 2019, Israeli authorities expelled Human Rights Watch’s director in Palestine, Omar Shakir, who is an American citizen after revoking his work visa, accusing him of supporting the BDS movement.

Israel’s decision sparked a swift backlash around the globe, with the EU, US Jewish NGOs, progressive Democrats, and international human rights organizations expressing criticism.

(Source / 03.11.2021)

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