Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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30 April 2020

Middle East

  • On 29 April, Arab and European civil society organizations and coalitions issued a joint open letter to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to call for the investigation of crimes in Palestine. The organizations, coalitions and individuals stated their support for the Prosecutor’s finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been and are committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, that the ICC can properly exercise its jurisdiction over the entire territory of the State of Palestine and called for the opening by the Court of a full and thorough investigation into Israeli violations committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
  • On 28 April, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association issued a press release to denounce Israeli authorities’ violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights with the announcement of new emergency regulations. These new measures include the suspension of all family and lawyers’ visits, leaving prisoners without any means of communications with their families.
  • On 28 April, Al-Haq published a Q&A on “Palestine and Territorial Jurisdiction at the International Criminal Court”, meant to be an accessible and comprehensive introduction on the “Situation in the State of Palestine” case before the ICC. Al-Haq provided an overview of the process currently taken place at the Pre-trial Chamber at the ICC, as the Prosecutor, States, lawyers and human rights organizations provide arguments pertaining to the Court’s territorial jurisdiction over the OPT, encompassing the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
  • On 27 April, Peace Now launched “The Digital and Street Campaign to Beat Annexation” to build momentum to spur single-issue demonstrations, media attention and parliamentary opposition on the issue of annexation. While Peace Now recognized the importance to focus on the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, it stressed the need to put the issue of annexation in the OPT forward and to explore new multimedia options and build a coalition to capture the public’s undivided attention.
  • On 23 April, B’Tselem issued the report “Israeli Settlers Exploit Coronavirus to Take Over West Bank Land with Military Backing: Violent Attacks Spike in April”. The NGO, which documented 23 incidents against Palestinians during the first three weeks of April, denounces increasing attacks from Israeli settlers throughout the West Bank despite the movement restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing measures introduced to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On 23 April, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel issued the press release “New Netanyahu-Gantz Coalition Agreement Stipulates Illegal Annexation of West Bank”. Adalah informed that it had sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Blue-White party leader Gantz warning that the coalition agreement signed this week which includes a stipulation to impose Israeli sovereignty over parts of occupied West Bank is patently illegal. Adalah called on the Attorney General to act against any move that the Israeli government or parliament may make to promote annexation in the OPT.
  • On 23 April, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights issued a press release to condemn Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen and highlight their increased vulnerabilities during COVID-19 related restrictions. Al Mezan warned that Israel is pressuring a sector that supplies both jobs and food in the Gaza Strip and now, at a time when families throughout Gaza are at a higher risk of food insecurity and poverty amidst the implementation of the Coronavirus safety and preventive measures, the impact of these attacks is increased.
  • On 23 April, Yesh Din published the position paper “The Potential Impact of West Bank Annexation by Israel on the Human Rights of Palestinian Residents”. In this paper, Yesh Din elaborates on the direct violation of Palestinian rights including freedom of movement and property rights and looks into the implications of further establishment and expansion of settlements in Area C, threats of expulsion and house demolitions in communities unrecognized by Israel, and the control of natural resources.

North America

  • On 1 May, the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) will organize the webinar “Making Sense of Israel’s Domestic Political Circus”, featuring public opinion expert Dahlia Scheindlin and journalist Neri Zilber, in conversation with Peter Beinart. The webinar will examine the extraordinary developments of late on the Israeli domestic scene and their implications for Israeli internal politics, policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians and annexation, and for relations with the region and the international community.
  • On 30 April, Americans for Peace Now is holding a call with independent security analyst Yossi Alpher on “Israel’s Emergency Government – the Spectre of Annexation and More”, to discuss the agreement of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and his opponent-turned-coalition-partner Gantz to “embark on West Bank annexation procedures as early as July 1st.”

United Nations

  • On 23 April, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East. He stated that despite continuing worrying developments related to the dangerous prospect of annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied West Bank, the COVID-19 crisis has created some opportunities for cooperation on tackling the common threat posed by the pandemic. He therefore urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seize this moment to take steps towards peace and reject unilateral moves. He also spoke of the acute shortage of medical equipment and personnel in Palestinian health services and the work of the UN Country Team in the OPT to support procedures of quarantine and screening. He warned against continuing sporadic violent incidents in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem with an increase in settler-related violence in comparison to January and February.

 

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.