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Civil Society and the Question of Palestine - NGO Action news – 5 July 2019

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Middle East

  • On 4 July, Al-Haq endorsed the publication of Advocate General Hogan’s opinion for the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 13 June 2019, in relation to the notice issued by the French Minister for the Economy and Finance concerning the indication of origin of goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). In the Opinion, Advocate General Hogan made clear, that since under international law Israeli settlements are illegal and are not recognized by the international community as being part of the State of Israel, it is necessary to explicitly label goods coming from these areas as originating from settlements. The Opinion was published after the Organisation Juive Européenne and winery _Psago_t – based in an illegal settlement in the OPT – disputed the notice on labelling issued by the French Minister for the Economy and Finance and revoked by the Council of State in France.

  • On 2 July, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) issued a statement condemning Israel’s deliberate denial of entry to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, Prof. Michael Lynk. PHROC first denounced Israel’s denial of entry at the time of his appointment three years ago, in disregard of obligations as a United Nations Member State to comply with the mechanisms and committees of the organization. In its statement, PHROC called on the international community to take measures to ensure Israel’s compliance with UN procedures and mechanisms, and particularly the special procedures and access of Special Rapporteurs.

  • On 2 July, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights announced that following a prolonged legal battle, Israel had returned a boat to a Gaza fisherman after seizing and holding it without legal grounds for three years. The three NGOs also explained that Israel had also notified the High Court of Justice that it will return another 65 boats and fishing vessels seized from Gaza fishermen within the next four months.

  • On 27 June, Al-Haq reported on the launch of its fifth international law summer school programme. The course brings together 24 international graduate students and professionals from 17 different countries and providing them with exposure to the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) for a two week-period. The course includes lectures on child detention, administrative detention of Palestinians, forcible transfer, their right of return; and field visits and discussions with various civil society and human rights organizations such as Addameer, Badil, Adalah, Al Marsad Centre for Human Rights.

  • On 25 June, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demanded Israel to cancel “admissions committees” established in dozen of Israeli Jewish communities across the country. Adalah criticized the admissions committees, which are authorized by Israeli law to reject applicants for residency based on the criteria of “social suitability” and the “social and cultural fabric” of the town. According to Adalah, this would allow a de facto situation in which these committees reject interested residents who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, “solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, or other identity.”

  • On 25 June, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement informed about an urgent letter it sent to the Israeli Ministry of Defence, Attorney General and Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on Israel’s decision to block transfer of fuel to Gaza’s power plant. Gisha called the decision to deliberately reduce the supply of a “basic humanitarian commodity” as constituting “illegal collective punishment” and asked for it to be reversed immediately. Gisha warned that Gaza already suffers from an acute, chronic shortage of electricity, impacting power supply to homes, hospitals, factories and basic civilian infrastructure.

  • On 23 June, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demanded that Israeli troops to stop shooting live ammunition at unarmed protesters along the Gaza fence, after the Israeli military released a report describing how snipers may open fire on Gaza protestors considered a ‘key instigators” or “key rioters”, even when they move away from the crowd. An Adalah attorney denounced that the Israeli military created this category retroactively in order to justify “the shootings of people who posed no real and immediate danger to Israeli soldiers or civilians.”

  • On 22 June, a group of 15 Arab NGOs, including Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Al-Haq, Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Syrian Network for Human Rights, issued a joint statement to express their concern regarding the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” workshop held in Bahrain. They called on all Arab states not to attend the workshop due to the absence of formal Palestinian representation and since “no party has the right to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians.” They further called on Arab states to ensure that any agreement reached involves Palestinian participation and includes the fulfilment of Palestinian rights and the end of Israel’s occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory.

North America

  • On 3 July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an article, “The Gaping Hole in Jared Kushner’s ‘Peace Plan’”, which analyses the economic plan presented by the US administration in Bahrain, last week. HRW explained that the plan should address key obstacles to economic development, including the closure of Gaza and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in addition to a “two-tiered discriminatory system that treats Palestinians and the settlers separately and unequally.” The article warned that the aim of the plan is to bring peace through prosperity, it should “press Israel to end its unlawful and discriminatory policies that are helping to strangle Palestinian economy.”

  • On 26 June, Adalah Justice Project, based in the United States, released a press release “Our lands are not for sale”, condemning the economic plan presented by the US administration the day before in Bahrain. Adalah criticized the plan for offering “uncritical support for Israel” and for nor mentioning “Israel’s military occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.”

  • On 24 June, Americans for Peace Now (APN) announced, along with nine other organizations, the launch of the Progressive Israel Network. The network includes J Street, The New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, among others. APN explained that the new coalition will provide “a strong, unified voice in support of its members’ common goals – democracy and equal rights, religious freedom and pluralism, and a two-State solution that would secure a peaceful future for Israel and end the 52-year-long occupation.”

United Nations

  • On 5 July, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory since 1967, Michael Lynk, announced he will begin his annual official mission to the region from 8 to 12 July 2019. The Special Rapporteur will gather first-hand information on the situation in the OPT with meetings in Amman, due to Israel’s lack of response to his request to travel to the OPT. The Special Rapporteur will present his annual report to the General Assembly in October 2019.

  • On 1 July, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released three publications – “Humanitarian snapshot: casualties in the context of demonstrations and hostilities in Gaza”; “Gaza Strip: Early warning indicators – May 2019”; “Gaza Crossings’ Operations Status: Monthly Update – May 2019”.

  • On 28 June, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory since 1967 said that any peace plan for Israel and Palestine will fail without a framework of international law. He reminded that six principles were particularly central to the peace process – human rights; self-determination; annexation; settlements; Palestinian refugees; and security. The Special Rapporteur reiterated that these principles were “the litmus test to judge the possibilities of success of the forthcoming American peace plan.”

  • On 27 and 28 June, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), in collaboration with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, convened the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem “Preserving the cultural and religious character of Jerusalem” at the United Nations Office in Geneva. The Conference brought together Palestinian, Israeli and international experts, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society around the issue of Israel’s policies and measures aimed at changing the character of Jerusalem, considered sacred by three religions. During the two-day event, invited experts reiterated that the issue of preservation of the Holy City was a political question and vital for attaining a peaceful and just settlement of the conflict. The representative of the State of Palestine, Minister of Social Affairs Ahmad Majdalani, stressed that the political track should be the foundation of a peace plan, while the economic track would be its support, in reference to Bahrain economic workshop.

This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information “as is” without warranty of any kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.