Today, 23 June, on the same day that Al-Haq has been awarded the prestigious Austrian Bruno Kreisky Award, for outstanding human rights work, Al-Haq sent a letter to Norway’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Anniken Huitfeldt, to take action against Israel’s baseless designations against six of the leading Palestinian civil society organisations.
Al-Haq wrote to Ms. Anniken Huitfeldt, as an important partner to voice our grave concern over Israel’s continued baseless designation of six of the leading Palestinian civil society organisations. Since October 2021, the six Palestinian organisations have been falsely designated as “terrorist organisations” under Israel’s 2016 Counter Terrorism law, and outlawed as “unlawful associations” under military order, with Israel employing so called “secret evidence” to justify such designations. The designations are a blatant attempt to suppress Palestinian civil society organisations, in line with Israel’s ongoing apartheid policies against the Palestinian people as a whole, on both sides of the Green Line.
Al-Haq first called on Third States to challenge and condemn the designation as an immediate response to the designation made in October 2021. Al-Haq expressed its gratitude to Norway for leading the international community at this time, taking a strong principled stance stating: “We take the allegations seriously, and have been in contact with the Israeli authorities both locally and in Oslo. It is up to the Israeli authorities to document the accusations. If there is insufficient documentation to support the allegations, we will request that the decision be reversed”.
At the time of writing, eight months since the designations, Israel has consistently failed to provide any evidence. In May, seven months after the designation, when asked about the designation of the six, Norway’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, responded by stating: “Norway is in contact with the Israeli authorities, civil society actors, the UN and other donors about the case. This dialogue is still going on. This takes time, but it is necessary for the donor community to be as united as possible along a common line.”
While Al-Haq does recall and is grateful for the continuous support of Norway, Al-Haq is disappointed with this response, which defers more time to Israel to fabricate “secret evidence” which will damage Palestinian civil society. Seven months has provided more than sufficient time for the Israeli authorities to provide evidence of criminality, Israel’s failure to do so is due to a lack of any evidence. Norway must move to condemn the designation now.
International pressure from Norway and Third States must be targeted and maintained on Israel to end the false designation of Palestinian Civil Society. While the designation remains, so too does the negative, suppressive and destabilising effects for all six civil society organisations, including Al-Haq. Limiting and oppressing Palestinian civil society will only further destabilise the already precarious situation on both sides of the Green Line. As noted in a joint statement by UN human rights experts in April: “Israel has had six months to substantiate its accusations and it has failed to deliver. We call on the funding governments and international organisations to swiftly conclude that Israel has not established its allegations and to announce that they will continue to financially and politically support these organisations and the communities and groups they serve”.
Al-Haq calls on Third States, including Norway, as well as multinational and international organisations such as the UN and EU, to:
- Acknowledge the failure of Israel to produce any evidence justifying that any of the six Palestinian civil society organisations as a “terrorist organisation” and that the use of “secret evidence” represents a tool of suppression used against the Palestinian people as a whole;
- 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;
- To intervene to pressure Israel to revoke its Anti-Terrorism Law, 2016, as incompatible with basic human rights standards.
 The organisations are: Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC).