Israel/Palestine: Statement by High Representative Josep Borrell on the Israeli raids on six Palestinian civil society organisations

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The EU is deeply concerned by the raids on six Palestinian civil society organisations that took place in the morning of 18 August and the measures that followed them including arrests and interrogations of staff members of these organisations, as part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society in the oPt. These actions are not acceptable.

A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution. The EU is committed to its continued support to civil society that contributes to this purpose and to confidence-building between Israelis and Palestinians. It stands firm with non-governmental organisations to uphold the right to freedom of expression and association in the oPt.

As already explained, no substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian civil society organisations on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate these NGOs as ‘terrorist organisations.’ We have been consistently clear with Israeli authorities on this, together with many EU Member States and like-minded partners, including following the latest events. Should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly. In the meantime, it is crucial to ensure that anti-terrorism legislation does not lead to undermining civil society and its valuable work and contributions to building fairer and more peaceful societies.

The EU supports the call by the UN agencies on Israel to refrain from any action that would prevent these organisations from continuing their critical human rights, humanitarian and development work in the oPt.