Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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29 March 2019

Middle East

  • On 28 March, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights submitted an objection to the Givat Tantour development plan, which intends to increase the population in some villages to “stop Arabs from moving to predominantly Jewish towns.” The objective highlights the use of an accelerated planning process for the establishment of a city without legal authority, and which will result in the “creation of a ghetto of overcrowding and poverty in the Galilee.” Adalah and Bimkom also support a planned protest commemorating Land Day on 29 March in Tantour.
  • On 27 March, Al-Haq, along with other Palestinian, regional and international organizations, sent letters to the diplomatic community in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the United Nations Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as to the OHCHR System of Special Procedures, calling on them to take action ahead of the one-year commemoration of the Great March of Return, and to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people to life and to freedom of peaceful assembly are protected. As civilian protests are foreseen to take place on and around 30 March 2019, Al-Haq urged the international community to take “meaningful action to prevent further unnecessary loss of life and injury to the Israeli occupying forces.”
  • On 27 March, Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, in cooperation with 30 grassroots civil society organizations, launched the first annual National Day of Giving in 5 localities in Israel. The National Day of Giving seeks to strengthen Arab Palestinian civil society in Israel by fostering community involvement in civil society initiatives and support.
  • On 26 March, Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association attended the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. As part of the Palestinian civil society collation, Addameer engaged directly with the proceedings on human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT); delivered several oral statements; and conducted meetings with diplomatic representatives, mandate holders and representatives of UN mechanisms. Addameer focused on collective punishment for prisoners and their families; recent raids on prisons; detention conditions and the ongoing and systematic targeting of human rights organizations and defenders.
  • On 26 March, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued a press release to denounce Israeli forces’ launch of intensive airstrikes on Gaza and targeting of civilian property on 25 March. Al Mezan condemned the renewed Israeli attacks on civilian properties in the Gaza Strip and warned against any escalation of this violence. Al Mezan stressed, in light of the flagrant violations against civilians and civilian objects, that the international community must honour its moral and legal obligations towards the civilian population in Gaza, especially amid the arming deterioration of their living conditions.
  • On 26 March, BADIL-Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights concluded a two-day conference “Right of Return: Towards Practical Approaches”. The conference aimed at encouraging the exploration of the practical realization of return and targeted Palestinian refugee and internally displaced youth. The conference, which was attended by over 140 people, featured interventions from Lebanon and South Africa on skype and was facilitated by Al-Awda Youth Forum, an independent youth framework of Palestinian refugee and IDP youth established by BADIL in 2017.
  • On 23 March, Al-Haq welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations on the Great March of Return following the Human Rights Council’s 40th regular session. On 22 March, the Council adopted a draft resolution on accountability in the context of the Great March of Return, in which it expressed alarm “that long-standing systemic impunity for international law violations has allowed for the recurrence of grave violations without consequence.” Moreover, three additional draft resolutions on Palestine were adopted under Agenda Item 7 on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, including on the right of the Palestinian People to self-determination, on the human rights situation in the OPT, and on Israeli settlements in the OPT and in the occupied Syrian Golan.

North America

  • On 11-13 April, the Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies will organize the event “Gaza on Screen,” which consists of the streaming of several short films, in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return.
  • On 29 March, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled “Why the Gaza protests won’t stop: Despite carnage, Palestinians continue to demand their rights”. HRW warned that Palestinians in Gaza will head on 30 March to the separation fence with Israel to mark one year since they began weekly demonstrations against Israel’s more than decade-long closure of Gaza. The report highlights the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry and how 187 of the killings of Palestinians by Israelis documented by the UN Commission of Inquiry were unlawful cases in which protesters did not pose an imminent threat to life and that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

United Nations

  • On 4 April, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations Forum on the Question of Palestine “The threat of de facto annexation – What next for Palestine?” at UN Headquarters in New York. The Forum will address the creeping Israeli annexation in the OPT including in and around East Jerusalem, its impact on the viability of the two-State solution and on the prospects to find a peaceful resolution to the question of Palestine.
  • On 29 March, Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Jamie McGoldrick called for action to prevent further loss of life and injury in the Gaza Strip, on the eve of the one-year mark of the start of the “Great March of Return”. He called on Israeli security forces to ensure that their responses are in line with their international legal obligations, “using non-violent means to the greatest extent possible.”
  • On 29 March, UNRWA issued the report “Gaza’s ‘Great March of Return’: One Year On – Impact on Palestine Refugees and UNRWA Services”. In this report, UNRWA monitored the effects the Great March of Return on Palestine refugees and echoed other parts of the UN in raising concern about the excessive force by the Israeli Security Forces and supported calls for investigations to ensure accountability for any violations of international law.
  • On 28 March, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held its 395th meeting on 28 March. The main points of discussion related to the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), as outlined by the Secretary-General in his report on Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016), the findings of the reports by the Commission of Inquiry investigating the 2018 protests in the OPT, submitted to the Human Rights Council, and statements regarding the status of the Golan Heights.
  • On 26 March, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov presented the 9th report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) for the period between 15 December 2018 and 15 March 2019. The Special Coordinator stated that no steps have been taken by Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” He warned against “another very dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza with potentially catastrophic consequences,” in reference to the recent launching of rockets and mortars against towns and villages. He urged for the “necessary leadership and political will” to take concrete steps in support of ending the occupation and realizing a lasting peace.

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.