Palestinian NGO claims victory after dropping libel case against British pro-Israel group
A Palestinian NGO has claimed victory after dropping a libel action against a British pro-Israel legal group that had accused it of ties to Palestinian political movements.
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) had claimed in 2018 that the NGO Defence of Children International-Palestine (DCIP) had "strong ties" with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an armed group known in the past for carrying out hijackings and attacks in Israel.
In a press release on Wednesday, DCIP said UKLFI had alleged that “donations to DCIP have encouraged and/or facilitated acts of terrorism”.
DCIP said it had launched legal action in June 2019 against the UKLFI with the Bindmans LLP legal firm.
On Wednesday, DCIP dropped the legal case, however, after it claimed that UKLFI had recanted allegations that the Palestinian NGO provided material support to Palestinian factions.
In a statement released on its website on Monday, UKLFI said it would "like to clarify that we did not intend to suggest that the organisation has close current links, or provides any financial or material support to any terrorist organisation."
However, in a later statement on Wednesday, UKLFI said that DCIP had incorrectly stated that the group "recanted" its previous allegations about the NGO.
"The statement published by UKLFI simply clarifies that UKLFI did not write about any of DCIP’s current board members in its published articles and therefore did not suggest links between present board members and a terrorist organisation. Our allegations concerned previous board members up to May 2018, as well as other employees," read the statement.
"DCIP issued a legal claim against UKLFI but we have not seen it, since DCIP did not serve it and have agreed to let it lapse. We have not made any payment of costs or damages, nor made any apology, nor given any undertakings."
The parent group of DCIP, Defence of Children International, was founded in 1979 and opened its Palestine branch in 1991.
It describes itself as the only human rights organisation based in the occupied Palestinian territories that focuses on the rights of children, documenting violations by both Israeli forces and Palestinian Authority security services.
DCIP said that UKLFI had been involved in a coordinated campaign of harassment against the NGO since 2018.
UKLFI was involved in a successful campaign to encourage Arab Bank and Citibank to stop providing banking services to DCIP in 2018.
“DCIP carries out its work in a situation of armed conflict where perpetrators of war crimes enjoy systemic impunity,” said Brad Parker, senior policy and advocacy adviser at DCIP, in a statement.
“Rather than demand Israeli forces stop intentionally and unlawfully killing Palestinian child protesters in the Gaza Strip, or that Israeli authorities hold perpetrators accountable, rising conservative nationalist social forces in Israel and their global partners aim to silence and eliminate legitimate human rights work.”