US: We’re reviewing information on Israeli NGO terrorist labeling

'We receive detailed information from the Israeli Government. We appreciated the consultation,' State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday.

Israel and Palestinian activists at the Al-Haq office in Ramallah on October 27, 2021 gather to protest the terror designation of six Palestinian NGOs. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Israel and Palestinian activists at the Al-Haq office in Ramallah on October 27, 2021 gather to protest the terror designation of six Palestinian NGOs.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

The United States is reviewing information provided by Israel on its decision last month to designate six Palestinian non-governmental groups as terrorist organizations, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.

“We receive detailed information from the Israeli government. We appreciated the consultation,” Price told reporters on Thursday when asked if the Biden administration had made its own determination with regard to the charges against the six NGOs.

“We’re reviewing the information that they [Israel] provided us,” Price said. He added that an Israeli delegation had been in Washington at the end of the month.

Price spoke out as three Israeli journalists – Yuval Abraham, Oren Ziv and Meron Rapoport – published a report on the matter on the websites +972 Magazine, The Intercept and Local Call. The journalists said they had seen a secret 74-page dossier compiled by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) about Palestinian NGO involvement in terrorism that had been sent to European countries and the European Union in May.

They charged that the report failed to substantiate the charge that the NGOs were involved in terrorist activity.

That 74-page dossier, they explained, focused heavily on the testimony of two Palestinian accountants, Abdat and Amro Hamuda.

MEMBERS OF the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) aim their weapons at an effigy depicting US President Donald Trump as they ride a truck during a protest in Gaza City. (credit: REUTERS)MEMBERS OF the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) aim their weapons at an effigy depicting US President Donald Trump as they ride a truck during a protest in Gaza City. (credit: REUTERS)

Both men had worked for outlawed Palestinian NGO the Health Works Committees, and had been fired for alleged financial malpractice, the journalists said. The HWC was not one of the six NGOs Defense Minister Benny Gantz labeled as terrorist organizations last month.

Those six organizations are Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center, the Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union for Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

The Defense Ministry charges that these six NGOs “constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”

Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan have designated the PFLP as a terrorist organization.

The ministry alleged that the six NGOs listed above were controlled by the senior leadership of the PFLP. This meant, the ministry charged, that the NGOs “serve as a central source for the financing of the organization’s activity in general and take a significant part in building the organization’s force and the growth of the terror organization.”

These funds, which include large EU donations, were given to the PFLP through forgery and deceit, the ministry charged.

THE DEFENSE Ministry has not publicized any data to back up its charges. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told The Jerusalem Post that neither his government nor the European Union had received any proof that the six NGOs were engaged in terrorism.

This would have included the May report European countries received, as well as the brief report they were given in the aftermath of that designation, the latter of which mirrored what the Defense Ministry sent the media.

In a statement issued last week, the EU also alluded to the May report when it stated that, “Past allegations of the misuse of EU funds in relation to certain Palestinian CSO [civil society organizations] partners have not been substantiated.”

The Associated Press, which also saw a copy of the May report, also said it, “contains little concrete evidence.”

US Representative Andy Levin from Michigan tweeted on Friday against Israel’s labeling of the NGO’s as terrorist organizations.

“We must question the severe designation of Palestinian civil society groups as ‘terrorist organizations’ by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. If there is evidence, I would certainly like to see it,” Levin wrote.

The article published Thursday by the three journalists focused on a Shin Bet document from May that had been distributed to the EU and similarly rejected. It has also been sent to members of Congress, the journalists stated.

“The value of the Shin Bet’s evidence” in that May report “seems very lacking, especially when taking into consideration that the accountants never worked for the six organizations they testified about and were fired from the Health Work Committees due to suspicions of financial malpractice,” the journalists said, adding that at no point was evidence provided showing that the funding was used for violent activity against Israel.

In some cases, evidence was even omitted so that it looked like funds sent to the PFLP humanitarian activity had been allocated to terrorism, the journalists said.

“When asked how he had come to understand that money reached the activities of the PFLP,” Abdat replied that he “saw receipts which were used for various PFLP activities, such as dabke [a traditional Palestinian dance] courses held in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” Only the first part of this sentence was presented to the Europeans, while the second part – from which it is understood that the receipts refer to a dance class – was omitted from the dossier, the +972 article stated.

“In fact, in the hundreds of pages of interrogation summaries, there is only one single reference to military activities. According to the summary of his April 8 interrogation, Abdat claimed that there exists a PFLP committee that decides how to divide the funds between military activities and organizations,” the +972 article explained. But no further information was given about those activities, nor was evidence shown to back up that claim, the journalists wrote.