Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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10 May 2019

Middle East

  • On 9 May, Al-Haq called on the European Union (EU) to withdraw its recent statement on Gaza and apologize to Palestinian victims. Al-Haq said it had received “with alarm” the statement of EU High representative Federica Mogherini on the continuing Gaza escalation, in which the EU reiterated, as quoted by the NGO, its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, and condemned the rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza.
    Al-Haq regretted that the EU statement failed to condemn the “killing of 25 Palestinians, including 13 civilians and the injury of some 150 Palestinians over the course of the escalation.”
  • On 7 May, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement issued a press release on the closure of Gaza, Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings by Israel despite of a reported ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Gisha informed that movement through Erez had been limited to exit of foreign nationals, Israeli passport holders, West Bank residents and ambulances transferring medical patients in critical condition to receive treatment; whereas only residents of Gaza were allowed to enter the Strip. Gisha denounced Israel’s use of its control over the crossings to deliberately harm the civilian population in Gaza and call for the reverse of arbitrary restrictions on the movement of Palestinians.
  • On 6 May, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights issued a press release to denounce the killing of 25 Palestinians and destruction of hundreds of buildings by the Israeli forces in a two-day escalation in Gaza. Al Mezan condemned all unlawful military attacks and warmed against resumption of hostilities and that “it has been civilians who have borne the brunt of Israel’s violence, blockade, and closure in stark violation of international law.” Al Mezan called on the international community to take firm actions so “civilians are protected, and justice is served, including through the lifting of the closure and blockade policy […].”
  • On 6 May, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a flash report on Israel’s intensified military actions against the Gaza Strip for two consecutive days and during which “the Israeli forces carried out intensive bombardment through their warplanes and artillery shells in land and sea.” PCHR reported Israel forces’ killing of 23 Palestinians; 14 of them being civilians with three women and three children; as well as the resumption of extra-judicial executions and the heavy targeting of residential buildings.
  • On 5 May, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel responded to the latest escalation and exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza over the last weekend, stating “as pointed out in 2009, in 2014, and during the 2018 March of Return protests, the Israel military consistently refuses to open investigations and prosecute those suspected of responsibility for the killings of unarmed civilians in Gaza. […] Israel continues to operate unchecked and – as we have seen in the last 48 hours – aims its weapons at Gaza’s unarmed civilian population […].”
  • On 5 May, B’Tselem called to stop firing at civilians in Israel or Gaza and for the lift of Gaza blockade. The NGO stated that “waging another in the Gaza Strip is a folly that will enhance no one’s safety or wellbeing.” B’Tselem called on the Israeli government to lift the stifling blockage it has imposed on the residents of the Gaza Strip and for Hamas to cease firing at civilians.

North America

  • On 7 May, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir published the article “Israel is trying to deport me for my human rights work. Here is why you should care” in the Jewish publication “Forward”. He explained that telling businesses to stop engaging in activities that abuse rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was neither a call for a consumer boycott not a boycott for Israel itself, contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision.
    He wrote that “anyone invested in Israel’s commitment to democratic values should be appalled by these attempts to muzzle free speech and criticism.”
  • On 5 May, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) issued a statement on the current situation in Gaza, denouncing the recent Israeli airstrikes and rockets launched by Hamas. The latter killed civilians in Israel, including a Bedouin citizen of Israel. JVP said it recommits to organizing for end to the root causes of this violence, which are Israel-imposed blockade of Gaza, for over a decade, “illegally sealing its borders of land, sea and air, trapping two million people inside.” JVP underlined how the protests against this blockade by Gazan residents continue to be met by live fire from Israeli forces.

United Nations

  • On 27 and 28 June, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), with support from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, will convene the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem “Preserving the cultural and religious character of Jerusalem” at the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Conference, which will bring together Palestinian, Israeli and international experts, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society, will address the issue of Israel’s policies and measures aimed at changing the character of Jerusalem and seek to formulate concrete recommendations for the preservation of a City, considered sacred by three religions.
  • On 10 May, the Permanent Mission of Indonesia, in collaboration with Kuwait and South Africa, to the United Nations held an “Arria-formula” Meeting of the UN Security Council on “Israeli Settlements and settlers” at UN Headquarters. The meeting was chaired by Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, Riyad Al Malki, voiced the opposition of Palestinians to the United States peace plan, which is expected to be unveiled soon.
  • On 4 May, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said, in his statement, that he was “deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life.” He warned against the current violence, which “jeopardizes the significant progress made in recent weeks to relieve the suffering of people in Gaza, lift the closures, and support intra-Palestinian reconciliation.” He called on all parties to immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months.
  • On 3 May, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl delivered a message to Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff, where he stated that fundamentals at the heart of Oslo and the foundation of the two-State solution appear to be challenged; as well as the growing reluctance, in relation to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to use the word occupation, although enshrined in international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions. In this context, he underlined the challenges and pressures UNRWA has been facing and the unprecedented 2018 financial crisis. In light of the recent generous efforts by several donors, the Commissioner-General announced a series of measures in relating to its operations in the region and that will positively impact Palestine refugees and staff.

This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information “as is” without warranty of any kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.