Israeli Defense Minister Gantz Outlaws Prominent Palestinian NGOs for Ties to PFLP Terrorist Organization
The Israeli government on Friday outlawed six Palestinian NGOs charged with having links to one of the most extreme and violent factions of the PLO.
An executive order signed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz named six Palestinian advocacy organizations — Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, Defense of Children International-Palestine, Samidoun and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) — with connections to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Formed in 1967 as an ideological fusion of Marxism and Arab nationalism, the PFLP’s goal is the violent defeat of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state extending from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River. The PFLP became notorious in the late 1960s and 1970s for hijacking commercial airliners, including a plane belonging to El Al, Israel’s national airline, in July 1968. It was designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department in 1997.
Israeli media outlets reported that Gantz took action against the six groups following investigations by the Shin Bet security service and the Ministry of Defense’s task force on terrorism. The ministry said that the six typically presented themselves as social advocacy organizations while serving as an arm of a faction “set on the destruction of Israel through terrorist means.”
Research independently conducted by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor highlighted the PFLP connections of some of the leading officials in the six groups.
Samer Arbid, who served as the UAWC’s accountant from 2016-19, was arrested and indicted by the Israeli authorities in 2019 on 21 counts, including commanding a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing, murdering an Israeli civilian, and injuring her father and brother. Khalida Jarrar, Addameer’s former vice-chairperson, was arrested in March of this year and sentenced to two years in prison for membership in the PFLP. Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director, was convicted in 1985 or recruiting and arranging training for PFLP members.
All six groups receive funding from the European Union (EU) or from individual European countries, as well as church groups and foundations including the US-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund, according to NGO Monitor.
Gantz’s executive order was strongly condemned by Palestinians and left-wing Israeli groups.
B’Tselem, a prominent Israeli organization that advocates for Palestinian rights, accused Gantz of “a move that characterizes totalitarian regimes.”
The group claimed that “the current government is not a government of change but a continuation government of the violent apartheid regime that has been in place for many years between the sea and Jordan river.”
International NGOs Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International — both of which have accused Israel in the past of pursuing polices based on “apartheid” and “racism” — issued a joint statement condemning what they called “an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement.”
Later on Friday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US had not received prior notice about the move, and planned to seek clarification from Israel.
“We will be engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for the designation,” Price told reporters during a telephone briefing.