High Representative/ and Vice President Borrell 24 May 2022
Neil Mac Call, Head of Division (MENA.2), EEAS
Dear Dr. Borrell and Mr. Mac Call,
During the night of Thursday last week, Israeli occupation forces cracked down on several Palestinian human rights organizations. Soldiers broke into the organizations’ offices, seized materials, sealed the doors with iron bars, and issued military orders declaring the organizations illegal. These are the same organizations that Israel attacked last November: Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Addameer, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. The IDF also raided the Health Workers Committees.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights then called the organizations “some of the most respected human rights and humanitarian organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Several EU countries, including Sweden, have completely rejected Israel’s claims and announced that they continue to cooperate with the organizations.
Josep Borrell, in charge of the EU’s common foreign policy, said Thursday morning that the EU will “continue to stand by international law and support civil society organizations.” While acknowledging such statement, we ask the EU not only to say they protect the Palestinian human rights organisations but, moreover, to ask Israel to :
- affirm the legitimate role of these NGOs
- give them back all the material they stole
- retract the ban
Israel has a long history of arresting, imprisoning and harassing Palestinian human rights defenders. The organizations that Israel is now attacking operate in Palestinian civil society and, among other things, provide legal representation to children brought before Israeli military courts and document Israel’s violations of international law, including submitting evidence to the International Criminal Court.
EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace) express its full support for the affected organizations and calls on the EU to strongly protest against Israel’s harassment of Palestinian civil society. Persecution of critical voices forms part of the crime of apartheid, as defined in the UN Apartheid Convention.
We the EJJP groups in Europe, support Palestinian civil society’s call for the UN to investigate whether Israel is committing apartheid. That conclusion has already been reached by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Two Israeli human rights NGOs, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, have come to the same conclusion.
Dror Feiler, Chair, EJJP, Judar för Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred, Stockholm
Wieland Hoban, Chair, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost, Berlin