Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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2 December 2019

Middle East

  • On 26 November, Al-Haq received the 2019 Human Rights and Business Award at the annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva for “outstanding work by human rights defenders in the Global South or former Soviet Union addressing the human rights impacts of business.” The 2019 Award was specifically granted to Al-Haq for the “ground-breaking work drawing attention to how certain companies in the occupied Palestinian territory, including firms doing business with or in Israeli settlements, are involved in human rights abuses and breaches of international humanitarian law, notably the Hague Conventions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
  • On 25 November, Hamoked – Centre for the Defence of the Individual denounced Israel’s policy of “sweepingly preventing West Bank farmers from accessing their lands behind the Separation Wall.” Hamoked explained that farmers will be allowed to access the “Seam Zone”, on the Israeli side of the Wall, only for a restricted number of days per year to be determined based on the type of crop they grow (olives, almonds, grapes, citrus fruit and so on).  Hamoked requested, in the framework of its previous petition submitted to the High Court, an interim order instructing the State to “refrain from applying the new regulations to landowners in the Seam Zone and their workers […].”
  • On 25 November, Human Rights Watch denounced the deportation of its Israel and Palestine office director Omar Shakir by the Israeli government after Israel’s Supreme Court had upheld the government’s deportation order and gave him until 25 November to leave. Human Rights Watch’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth said that this decision shows why the international community must “reboot” its approach to Israel’s deteriorating human rights record, stating that “[a] government that expels a leading human rights investigator is not likely to stop its systematic oppression of Palestinians under occupation without much greater international pressure.”
  • On 24 November, B’Tselem announced that its first full-length documentary film “Of Land and Bread” would premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam during the coming weeks. The film offers a first-hand view of Palestinians’ life under Israeli occupation and covers the issue of violence carried out by uniformed soldiers and police and by Israeli settlers acting under their protection with the backing of the State of Israel.

North America

  • On 10 December, The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development will host Cody O’Rourke, the co-founder of the “Good Shepherd Collective”, a grassroot organization based in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Um al-Khair in the South Hebron Hills. O’Rourke will discuss the current work of the organization focused on home demolitions and forced displacement of Palestinians and address the role of Israeli settler organizations in the USA.
  • On 26 November, Friends of Mossawa, Temple Israel of New Rochelle organized a panel discussion on “The Lived Reality in Israel and the Palestinian Territory”, during which Israeli and Palestinian civil society representatives brought their insights on the prospects of the two-State solution in light of the recent political developments, particularly the US announcement on Israeli settlements and their continued expansion, the plight of displaced Bedouin communities inside Israel, Israeli elections and recent escalations between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip as well as the role of the US Jewish community in promoting peace in the Middle East.
  • On 21 November, the Columbia Palestine Studies Centre organized a talk on the book “The Movement and the Middle East – How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left” with author Michael Fischbach and Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi. The book tackles the shift in US public opinion vis-à-vis Israel today. During the talk, Mr. Fischbach emphasized the importance of Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ comments on Palestine in opening a progressive discussion of the issue inside the Democratic Party.

United Nations

  • On 27 November, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of The Palestinian People observed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in the UN Trusteeship Council. The Committee Chair, Ambassador Cheikh Niang of Senegal, urged the international community to stand firm against Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and demanded that the Gaza blockade be lifted. He also condemned the recent announcement by the United States Secretary of State that Israeli settlements do not breach international law. Other speakers included the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, a representative of the Non-Aligned Movement, Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, in addition to the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council. Social justice activist Eugene “Gus” Newport also delivered a statement as a representative of civil society. Similarly, Events to mark Solidarity Day were held at UN offices in Geneva and Vienna on 29 November. The General Assembly will meet on 3 December at 10 a.m. for the annual debate on the “Question of Palestine” to vote on the four draft resolutions recommended by the Committee on 20 November.


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.