TRADE unions in the United Kingdom have denounced as outrageous Israel’s decision to designate six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist.
‘We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s outrageous decision to criminalise six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups by designating them as “terrorists”,’ the unions said in a joint statement.
The signatories of the statement include TUC, ASLEF, BFAWU, NEU, PCS, RMT, TSSA, UCU, Unison, and Unite the Union.
They describe the Israeli move as ‘a brazen attempt to further restrict Palestinian rights and to silence and punish Palestinian human rights defenders already working against incredible odds.’
The statement noted that the blacklisted organisations are amongst those most effectively documenting Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights, including the construction of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, attacks on Palestinians’ right to food sovereignty, and the illegal arrest and detention of Palestinians, including children.
According to the statement, the six organisations have been ‘undoubtedly targeted’ because they ‘have made their voices heard internationally, including in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and in UN forums.
‘Smearing, attacking, and banning the most vocal proponents for accountability and justice is a classic move for repressive regimes. It is a threat to the Palestinian people and to human rights defenders everywhere,’ the unions said in the statement.
Referring to influential reports by human rights groups, including Israel’s B’Tselem, which concluded that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid against Palestinians, the unions said that ‘the international legal definition of apartheid specifies that it includes the “persecution of organisations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid”.
‘This blanket designation and banning of some of Palestine’s most vocal human rights and civil society organisations should be seen in this context,’ they added.
In a statement on October 22, Israel’s minister of military affairs Benny Gantz announced the designation of the six civil society groups, namely Addameer, al-Haq, Defence for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Centre for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, as ‘terrorist organisations’.
The decision will authorise the regime to effectively outlaw the activities of these civil society groups, close their offices, seize their assets, and arrest and jail their staff. Furthermore, Tel Aviv will also prohibit funding or even publicly expressing support for the groups’ activities.
Israel’s ministry claims the groups have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Palestinian resistance movement, alleging that they are funnelling donor aid to anti-Israel resistance groups.
The unions state that the Israeli measure aims to ‘cut off international solidarity by isolating Palestinians and delegitimising their crucial work.
‘We call on the UK government to publicly oppose this draconian measure, to demand that Israel reverses it and, further, to begin to fulfil its own obligations to uphold international law and Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, and the right to oppose apartheid,’ they said.