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AIDA public letter to Secretary Blinken concerning Israel designations of Human Rights actors
TO: Hon. Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
Jerusalem, 08 July 2022
AIDA calls for resignation of the unsubstantiated “Terror” Designations Israel has leveled at leading civil society and Human Rights actors in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Dear Secretary Blinken,
We write to you out of serious concern for the six prominent Palestinian humanitarian and human rights organizations1 that were declared “terrorist organizations” by Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz over 8 months ago on October 19, 2021. To date, there has been no credible and substantiated evidence to warrant the allegations, only general allegations, and the decision by the Israeli government to continue pursuing the designation raises serious concerns that this decision is designed to criminalize and silence Palestinian human rights defenders.
The increasing number of unsubstantiated allegations and accusations being carried out by Israeli authorities against National and International NGOs, as well as Palestinian civil society organizations, raises serious concerns about the continued ability of these organizations to speak out for human rights and provide humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory. Actions such as these, as well as the misinterpretation and misapplication of counter-terrorism legislation, further contribute to the shrinking of civic and humanitarian space, compromising the basic rights of Palestinians and hindering the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Since the designation, the six organizations have undertaken formal procedures demanding the Israeli Government present evidence and proof on which the military orders were based. The Government of Israel has thus far refused to divulge any details of the allegations, denying the six organizations any grounds or insight as to with what they have been charged.
Al-Haq, a leading human rights organization in Palestine and one of the accused designated, stated that the designation affects the operations, the safety, and the very existence of the six organizations. It can manifest at any time in raids on organization offices, seizure of their assets, detaining and arresting their staff on terrorist offenses and prohibition of funding and/or public support for their activities. Indeed, many of them have already faced cut and/or suspended funding.
The OHCHR’s recent statement cited “Israel’s disturbing designation of these long standing members of Palestinian Civil Society as ‘terrorist organizations’ has not been accompanied by any public concrete and credible evidence.” Six months since the designation was first announced, Israel has failed to deliver any credible evidence linking these organizations to any terrorist affiliations. AIDA also highlights the recent letter from the American Bar Association, citing the serious concerns and flaws that have been evident in the Israeli legal system in light of these designations, and demand that actions be taken to address those concerns.
AIDA urges the U.S to demonstrate its commitment to protect Palestinian civil society organizations and civic space and its principled support for the role of civil society in functional democracies, irrespective and separate from the issue of the designation.
AIDA urges the U.S. to demand that Israel rescind the designations immediately as, to date, no further credible and legitimate evidence has been provided. Considering the lack of such proof or evidence, these allegations have served only to distract attention away from the efforts of defending human rights and delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)
*The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) is a membership body and coordination forum of over 80 international non-governmental and non-profit organizations working in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). AIDA members’ mandates, focus areas of work and geographical orientation are highly diverse. Some are mainly humanitarian oriented, while others work to promote sustainable development through longer term program interventions. AIDA members work on an array of sectors including, but not limited to: humanitarian response, shelter, water, health, protection, gender rights, youth, agricultural development, resilience and disaster preparedness.
Established 1967, AIDA is one of the longest-standing INGO coordination fora in the world.