EU enables the Nazi regime attack on Palestinian groups

EU enables Israeli attack on Palestinian groups

Ali Abunimah Rights and Accountability 

Two men with Palestinian flag make victory sign
The European Union runs away from confronting Israel’s frontal attack on Palestinian human rights groups. Mamoun WazwazAPA images

Israel’s designation of six major Palestinian rights groups as “terrorist” organizations on Friday elicited an immediate and strong response from human rights defenders.

Reactions have continued to pour in. On Monday, two dozen human rights organizations in Israel jointly condemned the move as an “act of cowardice” that is “characteristic of repressive, authoritarian regimes.”

They called on “the international community to oppose this decision unequivocally.”

“This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” a dozen UN special rapporteurs stated on Monday as well.

The independent experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor a range of issues, warned that the Israeli designation would effectively ban the work of the human rights groups. It provides a pretext for Israel to arrest their staff, close their offices and seize their property.

Al-Haq الحق@alhaq_org
“This designation would effectively ban the work of these human rights defenders, & allow the Israeli military to arrest their staff, shutter their offices, confiscate their assets & prohibit their activities & human rights work.” #StandWithThe6#Palestine


Several of the organizations have also been cooperating with the International Criminal Court’s investigation of war crimes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do,” the UN experts added.

“We call upon the international community to defend the defenders.”

EU keeps its head down

Some members of the European Parliament have also called for Israel to be held accountable, including by suspending the special privileges it receives under the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Joost Hiltermann@JoostHiltermann
I and 42 other former staff members of @alhaq_org in #Palestine denounce #Israel’s bizarre and outrageous designation of Al-Haq, a leading human rights organization, and 5 other civic groups working in the Occupied Territories as “terrorist organizations.”…7:20 PM · Oct 25, 2021

Manu Pineda@ManuPineda
From the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine, we ask Israel to reverse the decision to declare six Palestinian social and humanitarian organizations “terrorists” and we request to ensure the protection and physical integrity of their staff.


S&D Group@TheProgressives
Defending human rights is not terrorism! @alhaq_org, @Addameer, @DCIPalestine, Bisan Center for Research and Development, @of_committees and @UAWC1986 all play a crucial role in protecting Palestinian rights under occupation. 1/2

The EU’s hyperactive social media accounts chattered on about every issue under the sun but nothing was said about this latest Israeli attack on the allegedly European values of human rights, democracy and freedom.

Dimiter Tzantchev, the new EU envoy in Tel Aviv, even tweeted about how much he “enjoyed” a visit to a new Israeli TV studio along with the French ambassador.

Mick Wallace@wallacemickWill the #EuropeanUnion that cares so much about ‘Rules based International Order’ be suspending the Association Agreement with the Apartheid State of #Israel for carrying out this War Crime…?


On Monday, I wrote to Peter Stano, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. I asked him what explained this silence – especially since at least two of the six banned organizations receive EU funding.

He responded right away, admonishing me, “you are wrong in your statement about the EU being silent.”

Stano pointed out that he had addressed the matter that day during the EU’s regular press briefing, in response to questions from journalists.

He sent me the text of his response.

Dimiter Tzantchev@DTzantchev
Enjoyed touring the new @newsisrael13 studios in Neve Ilan, together with @AyalaHasson, @TalShorrer and others. French ambassador @EricDanon and I participated in a panel about European responses to climate change ahead of the network’s major environmental conference on Wednesday


“We always use a variety of means of communication and ways to get our message across at an appropriate time,” Stano added.

Given that the EU never seems to find the “appropriate time” to hold Israel accountable, skepticism is in order.

But let’s look at what the EU has given us so far.

Aside from the fact that the EU waited days to comment and only when asked, the substance of Stano’s remarks at the press briefing was less than overwhelming.

The EU did not criticize or condemn Israel’s action but did “take note” of it.

Perhaps the most significant part of the statement was that “past allegations of the misuse of EU funds in relation to certain of our Palestinian civil society organizations’ partners have not been substantiated.”

As even the right-wing Jerusalem Post acknowledged, Israel has presented no evidence at all for its accusations that the six groups – Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Bisan Center for Research and Development – are channeling funds to support “terrorist” activities by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

And yet, the European Union bent over backward in showing deference to Israel: Stano said the bloc took the Israeli accusations “very seriously” and was “looking into the allegations.”

“Smoke and mirrors”

Surely, given how even the EU acknowledges that Israel’s previous claims have been false, the onus should be on Israel to provide proof before the EU investigates.

But of course, there will never be such proof because as every organization that is serious about defending human rights knows, the Israeli accusations are baseless.

Interestingly, Gerald Steinberg, the director of NGO Monitor, perhaps inadvertently acknowledged this.

NGO Monitor is a right-wing Israeli organization that is the main source for these kinds of smears against Palestinian rights groups and those who fund them.

It has published what it claims is an “analysis” supporting the Israeli accusations.

On Monday, Sweden apparently became the first EU member state to speak out – albeit mildly – about Israel’s attack on the Palestinian groups.

The Swedish government confirmed that “previous allegations of misuse of Swedish funds [were] not substantiated.

Dimiter Tzantchev@DTzantchev
Enjoyed touring the new @newsisrael13 studios in Neve Ilan, together with @AyalaHasson, @TalShorrer and others. French ambassador @EricDanon and I participated in a panel about European responses to climate change ahead of the network’s major environmental conference on Wednesday


Steinberg responded with the assertion Swedish officials “have known for years that officials in a number of their Palestinian NGO [nongovernmental organization] subcontractors are involved with the PFLP terror organization.”

“How do they know that, beyond salaries, untraceable taxpayer funds for NGO industry do not get diverted to terror?”

Steinberg’s question reveals that Israel’s and NGO Monitor’s theory for outlawing these organizations is based on nothing more than speculation and guilt by association with the PFLP – which like virtually every other Palestinian political party Israel designates as “terrorist.”

Steinberg has accused Palestinian human rights organizations of being “terror fronts” hiding behind “smoke and mirrors.”

But that is a much better description for Israel’s campaign of lies aimed at sabotaging the work of those who document its crimes.

Ali Abunimah@AliAbunimah
I wrote to @ExtSpoxEU to ask why the EU has remained silent about Israel’s designation of 6 Palestinian rights organizations as “terrorist.” Below is his answer and my response will follow.


But as usual, this came with no condemnation or consequences for Israel’s actions. That’s tantamount to a green light from Brussels for Israel to further escalate its assault.

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