Joint Letter to French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society
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Joint Letter to French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society

Joint Letter to French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society

(Paris, November 2, 2021) – On Friday 22 October, the Israeli Ministry of Defense designated six Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as terrorist organizations: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC). Many of us who signed this letter work with these organizations on a regular basis. Twenty-six French and international organizations express their full solidarity with the six unjustly targeted Palestinian NGOs and call on the French government to react strongly to this decision which poses an exceptionally serious threat to Palestinian civil society. Dear Minister, On Friday 22 October, the Israeli Ministry of Defense designated six Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as terrorist organizations: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC). Many of us who signed this letter work with these organizations on a regular basis. Our organizations strongly deplore this decision and express their full solidarity with the six targeted Palestinian NGOs, which denounce human rights violations in Palestine and which the Israeli government is seeking to silence. We hereby express our firm commitment to continue to support them. This decision is not an isolated attack on the civic space of the Palestinian population under the Israeli occupation but the latest in a series of assaults on Palestinian human rights NGOs, which face a range of unjustified accusations, including of hate speech, anti-Semitism, and support for terrorism, as well as threats, intimidation, restrictions of movement, and arrests for their work.

These allegations and restrictions violate international human rights law -including the rights to freedom of expression, association and movement- which guarantees basic rights to establish civil society organizations and to provide community services. For several years, Israeli and international organizations that speak out against human rights and humanitarian law violations by the Israeli government have also faced an increase in attacks aimed at delegitimizing and silencing them.

The report “Attacks, defamations: deciphering strategies to delegitimize the defense of Palestinians”, published on 14 October by the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, documents how these strategies are implemented. We take note of your reaction, expressing your concern and asking for clarifications from the Israeli authorities, but we call on you to condemn this unprecedented attack on Palestinian civil society, which effectively criminalizes the work of human rights defenders in Palestine, and to pressure the Israeli government to reverse its decision. We thus wish that the French government expresses stronger support and more concrete protection for human rights defenders in Palestine and Israel, in particular for the threatened organizations, in accordance with France’s commitments to human defenders in the action plan it committed to following the 2018 World Summit of Human Rights Defenders. We also call on the French government to take all necessary measures to support members of Palestinian civil society so that they can continue to carry out their work. It is also imperative that your services immediately inform French banks, financial institutions, and donors that the Israeli government’s designation of these Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations is baseless and unenforceable.

The Israeli government’s attacks on these organizations pose an exceptionally serious threat to Palestinian civil society that strives to monitor and document human rights violations and provides basic services to the Palestinian people. Thank you for your attention to this letter. Signatories:.

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