NGO Action News – 28 October 2021

Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

Middle East

  • In the period since 22 October, many CSOs published statements to criticise and protest the decision by the Israeli Minister of Defense to designate six prominent Palestinian CSOs as terrorist organizations, among them B’Tselem, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Al-Haq, Addameer, Human Rights Watch jointly with Amnesty International, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and J Street. In addition, Palestinian CSOs hosted a joint press conference at the Al-Haq Center for Applied International Law in Ramallah to address the sharp escalation in Israel’s widespread and systematic attacks and smear campaigns against Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations culminating in this designation. Furthermore, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy published a toolkit and a video to support the social media campaign #StandWithThe6.
  • On 27 October, Peace Now informed that the Higher Planning Council of the Israeli Civil Administration had approved 30 plans for construction in the occupied West Bank with 2,862 units for settlers, and 6 plans with 1,303 units for Palestinians. The CSO stated that the approval of thousands of housing units in the settlements harms the Israeli interest and the chances of reaching peace, adding that Israel has pursued a policy of blatant discrimination that does not allow almost any construction for Palestinians in Area C, while in the settlements it encourages and promotes the construction of thousands of housing units each year for Israelis. Peace Now added that these units are separate from the 1,355 units that were tendered by the Ministry of Housing on 24 October.
  • On 25 October, HaMoked published the report “Creeping Dispossession: Israeli Restrictions on Palestinian Farming Beyond the Barrier”. This report highlights the deterioration in Palestinian farmers’ access to their lands in the Seam Zone, with only a minority receiving permits, even for lands located inside the West Bank. As a result of the obstacles to accessing these areas, many farmers have abandoned their lands and communities that once relied on agriculture as a primary source of income have been forced to seek alternative sources of income.
  • On 21 October, PCHR published a statement to express its grave concern for the lives of six Palestinians put under administrative detention in Israeli prisons, and who have gone on hunger strike for months in protest of their detention. PCHR holds Israeli authorities fully responsible for the lives of all prisoners, especially after one of the prisoners has been transferred to an intensive care unit after his health drastically deteriorated.
  • On 21 October, B’Tselem announced the publication of testimonies of friends and relatives of victims killed during the May hostilities in Gaza. This collection of testimonies entitled “Words Fail Us” was conducted by the organization’s field staff after Israeli forces allegedly killed 232 Palestinians, including 54 minors and 38 women. According to this report, 59% of the casualties did not take part in the hostilities.

North America

  • On 29 October, the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) will organize the webinar “Israel’s Designation of Six Palestinian NGOs as “Terrorist”: Costs and Consequences” featuring representatives from the six targeted Palestinian NGOs. FMEP is co-sponsoring this event with the Middle East Institute, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Democracy for the Arab World Now, Century International, the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, the Carter Center, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
  • On 22 October, the Foundation for Middle East Peace published the podcast “Israel Declares War on Palestinian Human Rights Defenders”. In this podcast, participants from FMEP, B’Tselem and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy discussed this Israeli government decision to declare six prominent Palestinian CSOs as terrorist organizations.

United Nations

  • On 29 November, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will hold the annual commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at UN Headquarters in New York with a special session of the Committee, including high-level Member States representatives. Concurring events are also planned at the UN Offices at Geneva (UNOG), Nairobi (UNON) and Vienna (UNOV).
  • On 27 October, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement to express its deep concern at Israel’s decision of 22 October to designate” six Palestinian human rights and humanitarian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations”. The Bureau called upon Israel to respect the rights to freedom of association and expression, and to swiftly reverse its arbitrary designation of those groups as “terrorist organizations.” The statement is also available in Arabic.
  • On 26 October, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, issued a statement considering Israel’s decision to designate six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations” as an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation. Ms. Bachelet further called for this decision to be immediately revoked, reiterating that counter-terrorism legislation must not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work.
  • On 25 October, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a statement by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Lynn Hastings, on the Israeli designation of civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory. In her statement, Ms. Hastings declared being concerned by this decision, which adds to increasing pressures on civil society organizations across the Occupied Palestinian Territory more broadly, and has the potential to seriously undermine their humanitarian, development and human rights work.
  • On 24 October, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, issued a statement to express his deep concerns about continued Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, following the announcement by the Israeli authorities of tenders for the construction of more than 1,300 housing units in the occupied West Bank.
  • On 21 October, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced the signature of a contribution agreement with the European Union (EU) in support of the Agency’s 2021 Programme Budget. Under this agreement, the EU provides a contribution of EUR 90 million (USD 104.3 million) in support of the human development work of UNRWA for this year. Part of this funding will be used to equip the most vulnerable and marginalized UNRWA students with tablets to support their learning during the ongoing pandemic and beyond.

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.



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