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After Israeli ban, US envoy to UN expresses backing for Palestinian rights groups

‘We support Palestinian NGOs’ role monitoring human rights abuses wherever they occur,’ Linda Thomas-Greenfield says after visit to region

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield at UN Headquarters in New York, on March 1, 2021. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)
US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield at UN Headquarters in New York, on March 1, 2021. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield appeared on Saturday to wade into the issue of rights groups outlawed by Israel, when she said Washington “support[s] Palestinian NGOs’ role monitoring human rights abuses wherever they occur.”

Israel in late October declared six civil groups to be linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The announcement sparked a firestorm of coverage and condemnations, as most of them received European and international funding.

On Saturday, Thomas-Greenfield, who recently completed a visit to Israel and the West Bank, tweeted: “This week, I had the chance to meet with civil society leaders in Ramallah. I was inspired by their work to advance democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity for the Palestinian people.

“We support Palestinian NGOs’ role monitoring human rights abuses wherever they occur.”

Thursday saw European Union High Representative Josep Borrell declare that Israel had yet to send definitive proof that the six banned Palestinian organizations were linked to the PFLP.

“We are asking for answers from the Israeli government, and we have not yet received convincing answers,” Borrell said in a closed-door meeting of international donors to the Palestinians in Oslo.

Borrell’s speech, like others given at the conference, was not public. The Times of Israel received a transcript of the address from another official.

Israeli officials have doubled down on the designation despite international criticism, repeating that there is “ironclad” classified evidence that proves the organizations’ terror links.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with US Ambassador the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 17, 2021. (Wafa)

The six Palestinian organizations in question — al-Haq, Addameer, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Bisan, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees — are prominent and well-established groups.

In late October, Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued orders that classified all six as terror groups. After an investigation by the Shin Bet, Israeli authorities alleged that the PFLP had used the organizations to successfully channel funds from European donors to the terror group.

The PFLP, which avowedly seeks to destroy Israel, has a long history of violent attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. The US, the EU, and much of the international community classify it as a terrorist organization.

While in Ramallah, Thomas-Greenfield pressed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the issues of human rights and payments to security prisoners in Israeli jails, according to her office.

She “emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and avoiding actions that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, such as settlement activity, evictions, incitement to violence, and payments to individuals imprisoned for terrorism,” a US readout said.

“We do not accept in any way the classification of six Palestinian civil organizations as terrorist by the occupation authorities,” Abbas told Thomas-Greenfield during their meeting, according to the official PA news outlet Wafa.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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