TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Israel will send an envoy to Washington amid a deepening rift with the Biden administration over six outlawed Palestinian rights groups, a foreign ministry official said Tuesday.
Last week, Israel designated prominent Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, prompting international criticism and repeated claims by Israel’s main strategic partner, the United States, that there had been no prior warning about the move.
Israel’s move marked a major escalation in its decades-long crackdown on political activism in the occupied territories. The US State Department has said it will seek more information on the decision.
Joshua Zarka, a senior official in Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told Israeli army radio that the envoy “will give you all the details and present all the intelligence” during his visit in the coming days.
Zarka said he personally updated US officials on Israel’s intention to ban the groups last week, and said he believed Washington wanted a more complete explanation of the decision.
The decision by human rights groups is emerging as proof of the relationship between the Biden administration and Israel’s new government, which was formed in June by eight politically disparate parties. The coalition ended the 12-year rule of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s hardline government enjoyed broad support from the Trump administration, which moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, largely allowed settlement construction to continue unchecked, cut funding for the Palestinians, and laid out a vision. for the Middle East that aligned itself with Israel’s positions.
The Biden administration has mainly restored traditional foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. But with the United States focused on other pressing domestic and foreign issues, the conflict was expected to fade into the background.
The rebellious coalition government has also tried to downplay the Palestinian problem, agreeing not to make big moves that could threaten its stability. But in recent weeks, he has increased his focus on the conflict, offering a series of goodwill gestures to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and also pushing for the construction of thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers.
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Most dramatic was the decision on civil society groups, which has shaken the coalition and returned focus to the conflict and Israeli occupation of territories that Palestinians seek for a future state for decades.
Israel has for years alleged the groups’ ties to a Palestinian militant group, but even under Netanyahu’s hardline rule, it fell short of labeling them as terrorist groups.
The statement appeared to pave the way for Israel to raid its offices, seize assets, arrest staff and criminalize any public expression of support for the groups. Most of the attacked organizations document alleged human rights violations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which routinely detain Palestinian activists.
Designated groups are Al-Haq, a human rights group founded in 1979, as well as the rights group Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Union of Agriculture. Work committees.