Israel welcomed France’s decision to outlaw two pro-Palestinian groups – Collectif Palestine Vaincra and Comité Action Palestine – over their calls for hatred, discrimination and violence against Israel.
“Antisemitism has no place today in Western democracies, even when it acts under the guise of hatred of Israel,” Israel’s Embassy in France tweeted, adding that it was grateful to France for taking such as a “firm and courageous decision.”
Left-wing NGOs have protested France’s decision, with the Campagne Unitaire pour la libération de Georges Abdallah group planning a pro-Palestinian rally in Paris on Friday in support of the two NGOs.
The planned rally follows a number of grassroots protests by pro-Palestinian NGOs in France that have taken place since February 24, when French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin spoke of banning the groups on the request of French President Emanuel Macron. He then formally dissolved the two NGOs on March 9.
Both banned NGOs have said that they plan to appeal the decision to France’s judicial administrative appeals body, the Conseil d’Etat. The Comité Action Palestine also hopes to appeal to the European Court.
France’s decision, the Collectif said, is part of the “criminalization of the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people.” This move targets “anti-colonialist and anti-racist organizations,” and that more than ever, people must stand up against “this attack on the most basic rights of freedom of expression.”
The Collectif Palestine Vaincra is affiliated with the international nongovernmental group Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
Israel declared Samidoun to be a terrorist organization in February 2021, in light of its ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The European Union, Israel and the United States have designated the PFLP a terrorist organization.
Pro-Israel groups welcomed France’s move, with a number of them saying they had pushed France to outlaw the NGOs.
Organisation Juive Européenne said it had turned to the interior minister in 2020 and had alerted the French authorities about its connection to the PFLP.
“We welcome the French government’s decision to dismantle a terror-linked and anti-Zionist organization,” said senior NGO Monitor researcher Vincent Chebat, who had campaigned in France for the ban against the Collectif Palestine Vaincra. “France has again demonstrated the importance of critically scrutinizing civil society. As NGO Monitor has documented for years, extremist NGOs have abused human rights discourse, and it is incumbent upon governments to recognize this phenomenon and respond accordingly.”
The French government posted on its website detailed information regarding the activities of both groups.
France charged that the Comité Action Palestine, founded in 2004, had spoken of Israel as a Jewish Nazi state, and used antisemitic language and imagery in advocating against Israel. It further charged that the NGO had supported armed resistance and terrorist activity against Israel, including lauding the so-called Palestinian “knife intifada.”
France similarly issued similar complaints to the Collectif Palestine Vaincra including its support for the PFLP and calls for terrorist acts abroad.
The Collectif on its website states that it supports Palestinian resistance, “which is the only way for the Palestinian people to regain their historic and legitimate rights. We support it in all forms it deems necessary and legitimate, including armed.”
It also calls for the release of all Palestinian prisoners including Ahmad Sa’adat, secretary-general of the PFLP, and Georges Abdallah.
Sa’adat is jailed by Israel for terrorist activity including the assassination of former tourism minister Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi in 2001.
Abdallah is jailed by France for the assassinations of US military attaché Lt.-Col. Charles R. Ray and Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov in two separate incidents in 1982.
France’s decision to ban the two pro-Palestinian NGOs comes amid a furor over Israel’s decision in November to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. These were: Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.