Israeli Official Insists Washington Given Heads-Up on Palestinian Groups

YERUSHALAYIM -
State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks at a briefing in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

With an envoy headed for Washington to clear up a dispute over whether Israel had given prior notice of its decision to outlaw six Palestinian rights groups, a Foreign Ministry official insisted on Tuesday that there had indeed been a heads-up.

“I certainly updated the U.S. about our intentions,” Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Strategic Affairs Joshua Zarka told Army Radio on Monday. “Maybe they think the update should have been more in-depth. That’s legitimate.”

Zarka said the Foreign Ministry wants “to repair this so such a case does not happen again.”

“Relations with the Americans are important, and we don’t want them to feel like they are not our partners,” he said.

In addition, a senior Israeli official maintained that a Foreign Ministry official traveled to Washington and personally notified the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism of the impending decision.

However, the official sought to explain the contradictory statements, suggesting that the message likely wasn’t passed on to the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which has charge of the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio, due to an “internal mishap” within the State Department, according to The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

His comments came after State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that “it is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate that we did not receive a specific heads-up about any forthcoming designations,” referring to the designation of Palestinian groups last week as terrorist organizations.

“We are currently engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations. We look forward to hearing more details from this [Israeli] delegation. I know that we will be receiving that delegation and hearing what they have to say,” Price added.