Resource Centre statement in solidarity with Palestinian organisations deemed 'terrorist'
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre strongly condemns the designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organisations ‘terrorist organisations’ by the Israeli government. This is an attack on legitimate human rights work, freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation, as well as being a form of judicial harassment.
We stand in full solidarity with Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders and the targeted organisations; Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), 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), which are among the most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory.
This is the latest attack by the Israeli government, which has intensified its intimidation of independent Palestinian human rights organisations and their staff over the years. This includes imposing sweeping penalties on anyone affiliated with an organisation designated a “terrorist” group by the Israeli government. Israel’s abuse of this law to silence, harass and intimidate human rights defenders constitutes judicial harassment. The abuse of the law and the legal system by the Israeli government and businesses is only one of many forms of attack which have included orchestrated smear campaigns, threats and intimidation, travel bans and movement restrictions, and arbitrary arrest for their work.
Israel’s attacks against these organisations poses a further threat to independent Palestinian human rights organisations and civil society who work to monitor and document violations of human rights and provide basic services to the Palestinian people.
Prioritisation of business interests over communities and workers is a key challenge faced by defenders. We were delighted to see Al-Haq win the Gwynne Skinner human rights award in 2020 and the Human Rights and Business Award in 2019, acknowledging its indefatigable efforts in this area despite sustained and aggression. Al-Haq was one of the first organisations to shed light on the involvement of private companies in alleged breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory. The organisation has conducted extensive research, and published reports, studies and interventions on these breaches. It has also undertaken advocacy before local, regional and international bodies in this regard.
This latest act by the Israeli government puts into sharp focus the devastating impact ‘shrinking civic freedoms’ has not just on the organisations affected, but the communities in which they operate and support. Israel’s attacks against these organisations poses a further threat to independent Palestinian human rights organisations and civil society who work to monitor and document violations of human rights and provide basic services to the Palestinian people.
The designation has been condemned by UN experts and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as other international actors, including members of the US House of Representatives, European Parliamentarians as well as civil society at the national, regional and international levels.
We urge the international community to take all necessary action to support and protect Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders to ensure they can continue carrying out their invaluable work.
- Israel should immediately and fully rescind its designation of Palestinian human rights NGOs as “terrorist organisations”.
- The international community, especially the European Union and its member states who are key supporters of and donors to Palestinian civil society, should ensure banks and financial institutions in their jurisdiction are notified Israel’s designation of Palestinian organisations are unfounded and inapplicable.