Israeli NGOs face asset freezes under new law

Image copyright AFP Image caption The nonprofits have served the Israeli army with court challenges on a range of issues Six Palestinian civil society groups have been branded “terrorist organisations” by the Israeli government….

Israeli NGOs face asset freezes under new law

Image copyright AFP Image caption The nonprofits have served the Israeli army with court challenges on a range of issues

Six Palestinian civil society groups have been branded “terrorist organisations” by the Israeli government.

The nations listed include human rights organisation Addameer, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, the Palestinian Popular Committee on Prisoners’ Affairs and the Youth and Sports Ministry.

The listing was a way to implement a controversial new defence law.

It would see their assets frozen and reporting forced, and will be in force before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends.

The challenge will be seen as a significant test of whether international donors will continue funding the groups.

Image copyright Google Image caption Addameer and the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms are listed as terrorist organisations

The US State Department has so far given funding worth millions of dollars to the groups.

Speaking on Saturday, Palestinian official and human rights activist Tawfik Tirawi said: “This is an unacceptable decision that represents a significant violation of freedom of expression.

“These political methods by the Israeli government have no place in a democratic society,” he said.

The NGOs will now have 10 days to challenge the act by appealing against it at the Israeli High Court.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Viola Yacoub, president of Addameer, has called the decision a denial of freedom of expression

The US Consulate-General in Jerusalem and several Arab and international aid organisations have refused to comment on the move.

Under pressure to combat Palestinian incitement, Israel passed a law earlier this year which gives the government wide powers over which non-governmental organisations it can declare terrorist groups.

First article of the law states: “A person who directly or indirectly assists or supports any group established on the basis of hostilities (other than those legally authorised to engage in such activities) shall be considered an individual terrorist offender.”

Israel has categorised nearly 700 human rights, journalism and non-governmental groups as charities or NGOs.

The defence law further strengthens this measure by significantly limiting the rights of the groups’ leaders to appeal against the decision.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Today we are approving a law that strengthens the legal framework against terror and incitement. In recent months we have shown that we are able to act against these organisations and their supporters in all areas, but we will also act against them in the courts to dissolve them and remove them from the field of public action.”

Image copyright AFP Image caption The US government has so far provided funding to six of the seven groups that have been designated

You can hear from the founders of some of the groups on BBC Radio 4’s The Debate , from Monday, 11 November at 12:30 GMT.

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