Al-Haq welcomes Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s strong and principled position regarding the Israeli designation of six Palestinian civil society organisations as “terror organisations”. On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz announced the designation of Al- Haq and five fellow Palestinian civil society organisations as “terror organisations” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism Law (2016), effectively outlawing the organisations and placing them at risk of imminent reprisals. On 3 November, Israel transposed the designation into a military order taking direct and immediate effect in the occupied Palestinian territory. The targeted organisations are: 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).
The designation represents an unprecedented and ominous attempt by the Israeli occupying authorities to silence and criminalise the Palestinian civil society organisations. The Palestinian organisations are engaged in critical human rights work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including the documentation and monitoring of human rights violations, accountability work to prosecute Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, and legal and advocacy efforts to bring Israel’s occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid regime to an end. Palestinian civil society organisations have long been targeted by an Israeli Government-led smear campaign aimed at constructing a key narrative linking Palestinian human rights defenders with ‘terrorism,’ with the ultimate goal of delegitimizing, controlling, oppressing and silencing Palestinian human rights defenders.
On 2 November 2021, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told The Jerusalem Post that Israel has not shown Ireland or the European Union (EU) credible evidence that there is any ground for its decision to designate the Palestinian civil society organisations as “terror organisations”. Al-Haq welcomes the strong and principled position of Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Al-Haq has repeatedly denounced the authoritarian and political character of the designation, that is part of Israel’s strategy to silence the Palestinian civil society organisations’ independent monitoring and documentation of Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The EU has not, for the moment, made such a declaration. On 28 October 2021, the EU’s Spokesperson stated that “the EU takes very seriously” the Israeli designation of the Palestinian civil society organisations and will very closely examine the allegations, as the EU “has never and will never finance or support any terrorist organisations”. Due to the gravity of the current developments Al-Haq urges the European Union to publicly condemn Israel’s acts and to take a strong stance in directly calling on Israel’s Minister of Defence to formally and immediately rescind the designations. The targeting of civil society organisations is an egregious breach of the right to freedom of expression and self-determination of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the designation of human rights organisations to obstruct their work in the pursuit of international justice amounts to a collective penalty against the protected occupied population, a war crime under international law, and an egregious act of the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
For these reasons, Al-Haq encourages Ireland to assert its position more firmly, and calls both Ireland and the European Union to:
- Publicly condemn in an official statement Israel’s designation of Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations as “terrorist organisations” as an internationally wrongful act;
- Use their good offices to demand that Israel fully rescind the “terrorist” designation of the six Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations, with immediate effect;
- Ensure that banks and financial institutions located in their territories and under their jurisdiction, are put on notice to dismiss as inapplicable, Israel’s terrorist designation of the six Palestinian organisations;
- Intervene to pressure Israel to revoke its Anti-Terrorism Law, 2016, as incompatible with basic human rights standards.