Berlin, Germany: Nine European countries, including France and Germany, said they were “deeply concerned” by the Israeli government’s forced closure of several Palestinian NGOs operating in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military on Thursday said it had conducted overnight raids of seven organisations in Ramallah, the West Bank city where the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters are located.
“We are deeply concerned by the raids which took place in the morning of 18 August, as part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society” in the territory, the foreign ministries of the nine countries said.
“These actions are not acceptable,” Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said in a statement.
Six of the Palestinian organisations were labelled last October as terrorist groups by Israel, although Israeli officials have not publicly shared any evidence of the links.
The NGOs have all denied any links to such groups.
The seventh organisation raided, the Union of Health Work Committees, was banned by Israel from working in the West Bank in 2020.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it seized the territory from Jordan.
“A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution,” the European countries said.
They added that “no substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian NGOs on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate these NGOs as ‘terrorist organisations’.”
But they said: “Should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly.”
The United States on Thursday also said it was “concerned” by the raids.