UN concerned over Israeli labeling Palestinian rights groups as terrorists

UN Human Rights Office in Palestinian territory urges Israel to respect rights to freedom of association and expression.

Girl wearing a protective face mask and the headband of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) looks on during a rally to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, in Gaza City October 12, 2020. (Reuters)

The UN has said it is worried about Israel declaring six Palestinian rights groups terror organisations.

The UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory said in a statement that “counter-terrorism legislation must not be used to constrain legitimate human rights and humanitarian work.”

“The designation decisions published by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel list extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful and legitimate activities such as the provision of legal aid and the ‘promotion of steps against Israel in the international arena,” it said.

“The UN Human Rights Office calls on Israel to fully respect the rights to freedom of association and expression, without any interference or harassment against the organisations or their staff,” it added.

Israel outlaws Palestinian human rights groups, sparking outcry

In a separate statement, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said the move was another link in the chain of undermining the right to civil and human rights work in Palestinian territories.

The Geneva-based rights organisation added that “the classification aims to prevent the documentation of Israeli violations and support their victims amid an absence of international response to that.”

The group urged the international community to pressure Israeli authorities to limit their policies in subduing critical voices of their practices and violations in Palestinian territories.

Serious violation of international law

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh rejected the Israeli decision, calling it a serious violation of international law.

He called on the international community and all human rights organisations across the world to condemn the decision.

Israel accused the six groups of having links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group banned by the Israeli military.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Justice Ministry outlawed the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights, Al-Haq, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children Palestine, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

The PFLP is the second-largest group in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and was elected as a member of the Legislative Council in the last parliamentary elections in 2006.

The Israeli army in July sealed off the offices of the UAWC, a Palestinian non-profit organisation in Ramallah, central West Bank, for six months.

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