Palestinian NGOs criticised over meeting with Israeli groups

Palestinian NGOs face criticism over meeting with Israeli delegation in Ramallah
3 min read
West Bank
02 November, 2021
Six Palestinian NGOs designated 'terrorist' by Israel affirmed that they accepted to receive a solidarity visit from Israeli human rights groups with whom they cooperate with.
The Palestinian NGOs designated 'terrorist' by Israel provide help to women, children, farmers and political prisoners in the Palestinian territories [AFP/Getty]

The director of one of the six Palestinian NGOs labeled as "terrorist" by Israel in late October said they will not "give up their commitment or their mission" following their blacklisting.

Ubai Aboudi, the general director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development told The New Arab that the civil societies will not relent on their work, which follows criticism from Palestinians after the directors of five of these NGOs met a group of Israeli legal organisations in Ramallah.

Israel declared the Al-Haq, Bisan Research and Development Center, Addameer Prisoner Support Association, Defense of Children International, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees NGOs as "terrorist" organisations in October.

Aboudi said: "Palestinian civil organisations have a role in Palestinian society, a commitment for which they are attacked. This commitment is what we are defending, and it will never be a price to give up."

The Israeli legal delegation was reported to have included members of the "Combatants for Peace" association, viewed by many Palestinians as promoting normalisation with Israel. Critics include journalists, civil society activists, and former detainees.

Shawan Jabarin, the general director of Al-Haq, one of the six NGOs facing the Israeli "terrorism" labeling, defended the meeting.

"We received a delegation of Israeli legal organisations who came to express their solidarity. These are organisations with whom we cooperate, especially in the documentation field, but we didn't know who else was in the delegation," Jabarin told The New Arab.

He explained that Al-Haq's relationship with Israeli legal organisations is "strictly one of cooperation" in documenting Israeli human rights violations.

"We don't have joint projects, because that would require a higher level of political agreement, but they know who we are and wanted to show solidarity nevertheless," he added.

Among the critics of the meeting was Palestinian journalist and presenter Lina Abu Halawah.

"These are our Palestinian organisations and we have to protect them, and in order to protect them we need to criticise their action and demand a clarification," Abu Halawah said in a live stream on her Facebook page.

Ubai Aboudi responded: "Palestinians should trust us and understand that we are facing an attack. We never let our people down, and never will."

The banned organisations provide legal and social help to women, children, farmers, and political prisoners.

They are also one of the main sources of monitoring, research, and documentation on human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Their labeling as "terrorist" by Israel has been condemned by Human rights Watch and Amnesty International in a joint statement, as well as by several members of the US Congress including Democrats Betty McCollum and Ilhan Omar.