A classified CIA report has revealed that no evidence has been found to support Israel's decision to label six prominent Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organisations". The agency was apparently handed intelligence by the Israelis about its designation earlier this year, but has dismissed the occupation state's claims about the Palestinian groups and concluded that the material investigated did not show any evidence to support the Israeli position.
A source familiar with the study is reported by the Guardian as saying that the CIA report "doesn't say that the groups are guilty of anything." A second source said that the assessment was highly classified.
US President Joe Biden and his administration is now under pressure to make its position clear on the issue, especially as numerous countries, including allies of Israel, have rejected the terror designation of the Palestinian human right groups. The US, however, has not criticised or questioned Israel's position publicly, despite there being no evidence to support the "terrorist" claim.
"The United States should very clearly call on the Israeli government to reverse these designations, and to allow these organisations to continue their vital work," said Omar Shakir, Israel/Palestine director of Human Rights Watch. "The reality here is that the United States has for too long turned a blind eye, and in some cases even green lighted, quite serious Israeli government abuses."
Shakir added that Washington's position towards the Palestinian civil society organisations is part of a broader pattern of America's failure to defend human rights. "The position towards the Palestinian human rights organisations highlights a much larger failing in US government policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and puts the United States squarely out of touch with the consensus in the human rights movement."
In October, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Defence for Children International–Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, were all designated as terror organisations by Israel. There was speculation at the time that these groups were targeted for their work with the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has put Israel under investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Near universal condemnation followed. European diplomats said that they found no evidence supporting the Israeli claim and those that temporarily cut funding to the Palestinian groups resumed payments soon after. Last month nine European countries expressed their refusal to stop cooperating with the Palestinian NGOs due to the lack of evidence proving the claim.
Israelis Against Apartheid also slammed the move. In its solidarity with the Palestinians, the Jewish Israeli group denounced the decision in an open letter with more than a thousand signatories. They urged people to join the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to end Israel's brutal apartheid regime.
Last week Israel escalated its harassment by raiding the offices of Palestinian NGOs. The US said that it is "concerned" by such Israeli raids, stressing that there is not enough evidence to prove the designation as terror organisations. A joint statement signed by 150 organisations called on the international community to stand against Israeli raids and closures of Palestinian NGOs.