Middle East

American Bar Association criticises Israel’s decision blacklisting Palestinian NGOs

The American Bar Association (ABA) has rejected Israel’s decision to classify six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations.

On behalf of the ABA, its President, Reginald Turner, wrote in a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, “We request that you review the concerns some in the international community have expressed, questioning whether the procedures utilised [in making this designation] inappropriately deprive persons or organisations of their rights.”

“Those charged are still entitled to the presumption of innocence. International law accepts that the requirements of a fair trial may be modified in counter-terrorism matters and that States may have recourse to special courts, particularly military courts,” the letter added.

According to Wafa news agency, the ABA letter was also sent to high-level Israeli officials, the US and international officials that engage with Israel, including US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

On 19 October 2021, Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, designated six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist organisations” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism Law, which was ratified in 2016.

READ: Palestinian rights activists blocked from attending UN civil society forum

The Israeli military commander in the occupied West Bank also outlawed all the six groups, declaring them “unlawful associations”.

The move also sparked criticism by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who called the terror listing of the Palestinian NGOs an attack on human rights defenders, freedom of association and the right to public participation, saying the decision should be immediately revoked.

Bachelet said the organisations are some of the “most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory”, that have worked closely with the UN for decades.

The six groups Israel designated as terrorist organisations are Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine, and Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

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