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UN experts urge funding for Palestinian groups labelled as 'terrorist' by Israel

UN experts call on international community to resume funding for six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups outlawed by Israel last year
A member of the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq is seen at their office in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on 8 November 2021 (Reuters)
By MEE staff in New York City

United Nations human rights experts urged the international community on Monday to resume funding for six prominent Palestinian civil society groups designated by Israel as terrorist organisations last year. 

In October, Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz labelled the six Palestinian NGOs - AddameerAl-Haq; the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; the Bisan Centre for Research and Development; the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees; and Defence for Children International - Palestine - as terrorist organisations.

The move was met with widespread condemnation, including from prominent rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and also some US lawmakers.

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"Israel has had six months to substantiate its accusations and it has failed to deliver," the experts said in a statement.

"We call on the funding governments and international organisations to swiftly conclude that Israel has not established its allegations and to announce that they will continue to financially and politically support these organisations and the communities and groups they serve."

Several progressive Jewish groups, including J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace and T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, among others, condemned Israel's decision. 

The lack of funding has hindered Palestinian civil society, causing concerns for UN experts. The European Union has already suspended its funding for two of the organisations. 

"We are deeply disturbed by Israel's apparent misuse of anti-terrorism legislation to attack some of the leading civil society organisations in Palestine. Such misuse must be rejected and countered," the experts said.

"The United Nations has been very clear that the drafting and application of anti-terrorism laws have to be rigorously consistent with international law and human rights protections, including the principles of legal certainty, necessity, proportionality, the rule of law and non-discrimination."

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