Two nonprofits linked to Arab Ra’am party to be shuttered over alleged terror ties

The party and the organizations dismiss allegations as political persecution, while far-right parties claim vindication for previously accusing Ra’am of supporting terror

Sam Sokol, TOI    April 16m 2024

Ra’am party head MK Mansour Abbas leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 12, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two nonprofits associated with MK Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am, or United Arab List, party are to be dissolved over alleged links to terror financing, the Corporations Authority announced on Tuesday.

According to a statement by the Justice Ministry, the decision came after an investigation found reason to believe that the Islamic Association for Orphans and the Needy, also known as “Aid 48,” and the Association for Humanitarian Actions had “transferred funds or cooperated with organizations outside of Israel that were declared as terrorist organizations.”

Both Ra’am and the two nonprofits are affiliated with the southern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement.

The two charitable funds were warned of the authority’s intent to begin liquidation procedures and given until May 6 to present their case as to why the government should not request a dissolution order from the court.

The Kan public broadcaster reported that one of the two nonprofits’ accounts was recently blocked by Bank Leumi.

An attorney for the bank told the network that there had been “money transfers here to associations that we know are Hamas associations.”

In a statement, Ra’am blamed the Netanyahu government for funding Hamas and accused it of seeking to divert attention from its own mistakes.

“Those who deliberately fueled Hamas with suitcases of dollars and abandoned the security of all Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, are now dealing with accusations and lies in order to escape their responsibility for the disaster due to cynical political interests,” Ra’am stated.

“Since the negotiations on the possible entry of Ra’am into the [previous] coalition began, an ongoing and vicious campaign has been waged against us by extreme right-wing elements, aiming to thwart any chance for the political integration of Arab citizens in the country. This is done on the back of a humanitarian aid organization that operates with the knowledge and cooperation of all authorized entities in the country. We have no doubt that the organization will prove it acted lawfully.”

Responding to the news, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote on X that he had “warned and cried out about the connection between the Ra’am party and Mansour Abbas and terrorism, a connection that today receives official confirmation.”

“We knew about it for sure and based our opposition to the establishment of a government that relies on them,” he added, referring to Ra’am becoming a member of the Bennett-Lapid government, which held power between June 2021 and December 2022.

The party’s inclusion prompted then-opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu to claim his opponents were “gambling with all of our lives” and had established a “government that relies on those who would reject the existence of the Jewish state.”

For his part, then-incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett called Ra’am leader Abbas an “honest man and a brave leader.”

The Islamist Abbas courted controversy among his base by stating that Israel will always be a Jewish state and promising that Arab Israelis would “lead” efforts to repair and rehabilitate synagogues burned down by violent Arab rioters in the central city of Lod during clashes in May 2021.

He also condemned Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, calling on Palestinian terror groups to demilitarize and work with the Palestinian Authority in order to establish a Palestinian state through nonviolent means — a statement his party later clarified as meaning that “the Palestinian state that will arise will negate the arming of Palestinian factions.”

Despite Abbas’s efforts to moderate his party’s image, last November the Knesset’s Ethics Committee sanctioned Ra’am MK Iman Khatib-Yassin because she had “denied atrocities” committed by Hamas.

Following her comments, Abbas demanded that Khatib-Yassin resign immediately but she remained in the party and is still an MK.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party said that it was “not at all surprised” by the news of the nonprofits’ pending closures.

“We didn’t need more proof to understand and know [that] the Ra’am party and Mansour Abbas work in full cooperation with associations that encourage and support terrorism,” the party said.

“We shouted it back then when Bennett and Lapid established a coalition with them, and today everyone sees that we were right that the Ra’am party has no right to exist even one more day in the Israeli Knesset.”

Responding to the news, Aid 48 said in a statement carried by the Hebrew daily Maariv that it “was not dissolved nor was any request of this kind submitted to the court.”

“The Registrar of Associations sent the association a letter with a request for clarification on a number of issues and the association will cooperate with the registrar’s inspection and forward to him full answers and documents, which will prove beyond any doubt that the association’s activities were in accordance with the law and the rules of proper management,” the organization said.

“This is a campaign of persecution for a clear political goal of thwarting any possibility of a political partnership between Arabs and Jews by highlighting humanitarian work done with the knowledge of all the relevant parties.”

April 18, 2024 | 2 Comments »

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  1. “Islamic Association for Orphans and the Needy,” eh? Reminds of the joke that goes Lizzie Borden threw herself on the mercy of the court as a poor orphan who lost both her parents.