By Shweta Desai
PARIS (AA) - The French Foreign Ministry asked Israel on Tuesday to clarify its reasons for designating several Palestinian NGOs "terrorist" organizations.
The ministry expressed concern for designating six groups involved in human rights and developmental work.
“We would like clarifications to be provided by the Israeli authorities,” it said in a statement.
France, which is participating in a major military exercise in Israel alongside the US, UK, Germany, Greece, Italy and India, avoided condemning Israel.
Underlining the essential role of civil society in a democracy, the statement said it is the “responsibility of the states to create and maintain an environment conducive to their work.”
On Oct. 19, Israel classified the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Al Haq; Defense for Children International – Palestine; Union of Agricultural Work Committees; Bisan Center for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees as "terrorist" organizations.
It claimed the NGOs receive funding and are supported by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a militant political party.
The move to brand the NGOs which are critical of human rights abuses by all parties of the conflict has been condemned by the UN’s human rights office and international rights organizations.
The NGOs are recognized for documenting persecution of civilians, offering legal aid and support to prisoners, women and children.