Six West Bank-based Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations recently designated by Israel as “terrorist” organizations sent joint letters to United Nations Offices and Representatives urging continued international pressure on Israel to cancel its decision.
Al-Haq, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) sent letters expressing their appreciation for the statement from the United Nations special rapporteurs condemning the designations as “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere.”
The organizations also welcomed the strong statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, that “claiming rights before a UN or other international body is not an act of terrorism, advocating for the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territory is not terrorism, and providing legal aid to detained Palestinians is not terrorism.”
Additionally, the organizations sent letters to the UN Secretary-General Antَnio Guterres and the Human Rights Council President Nazhat Shameem Khan urging them to use their unique position to unequivocally condemn the Israeli designations and attempts to smear human rights work and to underline the importance of work by Palestinian civil society and the UN support of human rights advocacy, whether in Palestine or around the world.
“Our organizations reiterate that Israel’s designation constitutes the latest in an escalating series of smear attacks and institutionalized violence against defenders of the Palestinian people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said the six groups in their joint letters. “It forms part of Israel’s strategy to maintain its apartheid regime of institutionalized racial discrimination and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, by silencing human rights defenders.”
They said, “The arbitrary designation, targeting six of the most eminent Palestinian CSOs places serious obstacles on their documentation and monitoring of human rights violations, accountability work to prosecute Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, and legal and advocacy efforts. These obstacles include, but are not limited to, the negative impact on funding from international partners due to Israel’s delegitimization campaign, raids of the Israeli military on Palestinian CSOs and the concurrent raids on offices and confiscation of essential data or the arrest of the organization’s staff members and prominent human rights defenders and advocates.”
The six organizations said they “appreciate the massive outpouring of support, condemnations of the designation and condemnation of the Israeli claims as unsubstantiated, by international civil society as well as government and organizational representatives.”
In order to foster justice and dignity for Palestinians suffering daily violations of their basic right and in order to ensure the continuation of international human rights work, the six organizations called upon the international community, the UN member states and its high offices to:
1. Call on Israel, to urgently rescind the designations as acts which violate the freedoms of opinion and expression, and freedom of association, and amount to an act of apartheid prosecutable under Article 7(2)(h) of the Rome Statute;
2. Publish a bulletin to banks and financial institutions, putting them on notice to dismiss as inapplicable, Israel’s terrorist designation of the six Palestinian organizations;
3. Communicate directly with, and recommend, that the European Union and Third States remove “terrorism” clauses as internal conditions placed on donor funding of civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT);
4. Call on UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Nي Aolلin, to examine the compatibility of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law;
5. Denounce the application of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 to civil society organizations in the OPT as an overreaching of Israel’s domestic law to the OPT;
6. Call on Israel to repeal the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 effectively used to institutionalize the persecution of human rights defenders and entrench its colonial domination over the Palestinian people and their lands;
7. Urge Israel to immediately cease its systematic and ongoing policies and practices aimed at intimidating and silencing Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders, in breach of their right to freedom of expression, including through arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, institutionalized hate speech and incitement, residency revocation, deportations, and other forms of coercive or punitive measures.