Finnish charity ends ties with Palestinian group after terror designation

Felm says it hasn’t seen evidence that funds given to Defense for Children International-Palestine were used improperly, but warns of potential banking sanctions

Illustrative: Finland's flag flies aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, July 29, 2017.  (AP Photo/David Goldman, file)
Illustrative: Finland's flag flies aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, July 29, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, file)

A Christian charity organization in Finland has decided to end ties with a Palestinian rights group after it was blacklisted by Israel for alleged terror links.

The executive director of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, or Felm, said Friday the group hasn’t seen evidence that the 30,000 euros ($34,650) it has provided annually since 2015 to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) was used improperly.

“We have actively monitored the use of the money and it has been used for work advancing children’s rights,” Rolf Steffansson told Reuters.

He said, however, that Felm could no longer work with DCIP after Israel designated it and five other rights groups as terror organizations, citing potential banking sanctions.

“It could have impacted the work we do in 30 countries through banking services for example,” he said.

DCIP, which denies the Israeli allegations, has asked Felm to reconsider the move.

“We have been subject to escalating delegitimization and disinformation campaigns advanced by an international network of extremist groups with the support of Israeli government ministries,” Khaled Quzmarm DCIP’s director-general, told Reuters via a lawyer.

DCIP also said none of its other donors have indicated they will cut off funding.

Palestinians participate in a rally marking the 52nd anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in Gaza City, December 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

DCIP was one of six Palestinian civil society organizations designated last month as terrorist groups, with Israel saying they were tied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular, leftist political movement with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. Israel and Western countries consider the PFLP a terrorist organization.

The other designated groups are the Al-Haq human rights group, the Addameer rights group, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

The groups, some of which have close ties to rights groups in Israel and abroad, deny the allegations. They say the terror designation is aimed at muzzling critics of Israel’s half-century military control of territories the Palestinians want for their future state.

Israel has faced scrutiny over the evidence detailing the organization’s alleged terror links, which the Shin Bet security service shared with European governments. Israel may have additional evidence that has not been made public.

In a briefing to reporters last month, a senior Israeli official insisted that the intelligence connecting the PFLP to the organizations was “ironclad.” He said the material presented to the US on the matter included “unequivocal evidence that includes video footage, photos, payment receipts that tie the said groups to the backing of terror activity.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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