A number of unions in the United Kingdom have released a joint statement urging the British government to reject Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations.
The signatories of the statement, namely TUC, ASLEF, BFAWU, NEU, PCS, RMT, UCU, UNISON and Unite the Union, strongly condemned the Israeli government’s “outrageous decision” to criminalize the Palestinian human rights and civil society groups, describing the decision as a brazen attempt to further restrict Palestinian rights.
“This attack is a brazen attempt to further restrict Palestinian rights and to silence and punish Palestinian human rights defenders already working against incredible odds,” the statement said, noting the six organizations targeted are among those most effectively documenting Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights.
This includes those monitoring the building of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, attacks on Palestinians’ right to food sovereignty, and the illegal arrest and detention of Palestinians, including children.
“These organizations have made their voices heard internationally, including in the International Criminal Court and in UN forums, and they are undoubtedly targeted for that reason. Smearing, attacking, and banning the most vocal proponents for accountability and justice is a classic move for repressive regimes. It is a threat to the Palestinian people and to human rights defenders everywhere,” it added.
The unions also described the move as an attempt to cut off international solidarity by isolating Palestinians and delegitimizing their crucial work.
“As trade unionists and campaigners for justice, we know all too well how repression and silencing works, and we also know how to stand up against it: by redoubling our commitment to stand with the Palestinian people, and in particular, the courageous human rights defenders criminalized for calling for freedom, justice, and equality.”
The statement urged the UK government to “publicly oppose this draconian measure, to demand that Israel reverses it and further to begin to fulfil its own obligations to uphold international law and Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, and the right to oppose apartheid”.
United Nations rights experts, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Palestinian and UN officials and rights groups have all slammed the move to outlaw the six Palestinian NGOs.