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Germany criticises Israel outlawing of Palestinian NGOs
Israeli left wing activists gather with Palestinian activists at the Al Haq Foundation in Ramallah to denounce Israel's decision. - AFP
Israeli left wing activists gather with Palestinian activists at the Al Haq Foundation in Ramallah to denounce Israel's decision. - AFP

BERLIN: The German government said on Wednesday it was "very concerned" by Israel's designation of six leading Palestinian civil society groups as outlawed "organisations", in a move also criticised by the UN.

The Jewish state said its decision last week was due to their alleged financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). It accused the six of working covertly with the leftist group.

"We are very concerned by the Israeli decision," a German foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters, saying that the groups' placement on a terror list would have "broad political, legal and financial implications" for them.

The German government routinely conducts "reviews of accusations and indications of connections of possible partners to organisations", she added.

"We are waiting for further information from the Israeli government" on its justification for the move, the spokeswoman said.

The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday called the Israeli decision an attack on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation.

Meanwhile, Israel advanced plans for building more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a military spokesman said, a day after the US forcefully criticised such construction.

The Civil Administration's high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344, a spokesman for the military body that oversees civilian matters in the Palestinian territories said.

The approvals came a day after the United States criticised Israel for its policy of building settlements, with President Joe Biden's administration saying it "strongly" opposed new construction on the West Bank.

His administration's position on the matter stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose presidency saw the US offer a green light to Israel's activity on occupied Palestinian land.

The homes approved on Wednesday were spread across the West Bank, from the suburbs of Jerusalem to new neighbourhoods of settlements deep inside the territory.

Israel's housing ministry had separately on Sunday published tenders to build 1,355 new homes in the West Bank. - Agencies

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