Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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8 January 2020

Middle East

  • On 6 January, B’Tselem issued a report denouncing Israel’s punitive house demolitions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and showing how they had spiked in 2019 compared to previous years. According to B’Tselem figures, last year Israel demolished 106 housing units in the West Bank, leaving 349 Palestinians homeless, including 160 minors, as well as 150 non-residential structures. B’Tselem argued that the justices of the Israeli Supreme Court repeatedly dismissed petitions brought by Palestinians against these demolitions, “relying on an unreasonable interpretation of international law and acceptance of the State’s arguments […]”.
  • On 2 January, Al-Haq’s General Director Shawan Jabarin published an open letter  to denounce a “strategy of convoluted claims and allegations that aim to instil doubt and fear into the minds of [the organisation’s] supporters” in reference to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ campaign against the NGO. He defended Al Haq’s work as based on the rule of law: “We abide by the rule of law […]. Claims and accusations that aim to replace the rule of law undermine the system as a whole.”
  • On 1 January, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement reaffirmed that the rights of Palestinians in Gaza “must not be used as bargaining chips in political barter.” Gisha lamented, following a meeting of Israel’s security cabinet to discuss measures to be implemented as part of a “settlement” with military factions in the Strip, that Israel continues to use its control over the movement of Palestinians to deepen the separation between Gaza and the West Bank “as part of a conscious policy.” The NGO called for Israeli authorities to allow travel and transit of goods from and into the Strip, rather than making minor modifications to sweeping restrictions on movement of people and goods.
  • On 23 December, Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association stated it had collected “hard evidence on torture and ill-treatment committed against Palestinian detainees at Israeli interrogation centres” since late August 2019. Addameer denounced at the same time the ban, imposed on the organisation by the Israeli Court of First Instance in Jerusalem, preventing it from publishing any of the details of torture.
  • On 19 December, Hamoked – Centre for the Defence of the Individual’s Executive Director Jessica Montell published a letter summing up 2019 activities, including “most noteworthy achievements.” These include the release of young Palestinians denied legal status by Israel and slated for deportation as illegal aliens, the battle against the “quiet deportation” of Palestinians from East Jerusalem resulting in the lowest number of residency revocations in a single year since the Ministry of Interior began its policy in the 1990s, and the granting of Palestinians who live in Jerusalem, pursuant to family unification processes, the same conditions of employment as Israeli citizens.


  • On 24 December, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) issued a press release welcoming “a seminal step towards legal accountability and justice for [Palestinian] victims, survivors and their families” in reference to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine. LPHR welcomed the Prosecutor’s Request as a “thorough, clear and compelling factual and legal analysis supporting her unequivocal position that the “territory” over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction under the Rome Statute comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

North America

  • On 9 March, the Columbia University Centre for Palestine Studies will hold the event “Citizenship as Gesture: The Making of Palestinian Citizenship in Israel” where guest speaker Lana Tatour will draw on new archival findings of the 1948-52 period to trace the making of Israel’s citizenship regime.

United Nations

  • On 31 December, UN human rights expert Michael Lynk hailed the International Criminal Court’s decision to consider a formal criminal investigation into allegations of war crimes in Palestine as a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability in the five-decade-long Israeli occupation.” The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied since 1967 underlined that accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action, although the international community has adopted hundreds of resolutions through the UN condemning various features of Israel’s entrenched occupation of the Palestinian territory. He stated, “Justice delayed is justice denied. Should the allegations of war crimes then proceed to the formal investigation stage, every effort must be made to advance the work of the Prosecutor’s office in a reasonably speedy manner […].”
  • On 18 December, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Security Council on the Implementation of SCR 2334 (2016). He stated that the month of December marked three years since the adoption of the Resolution and the situation on the ground since 2016 had only deteriorated, as settlements have expanded significantly, demolitions accelerated, and violence and incitement continued. He said that he remained concerned by the persistent lack of progress towards ending the occupation and realizing a negotiated two-State solution. He urged leaders on all sides to summon the necessary political will to take concrete steps in support of ending the occupation and realizing a lasting peace, resulting in two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders, with Jerusalem as their shared capital.

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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