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Amnesty ‘alarmed’ by reports of Israeli plan for financial bans

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Israeli bulldozer destroys a family house in the Israeli settlement of Ofra in the occupied West Bank on March 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Amnesty International slams Israel’s reported decision to impose bans on the rights group’s financial resources over its campaign against Tel Aviv’s illegal settlement activities, saying the regime is after stifling the critical voices of rights organizations.

On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that Tel Aviv is set to apply the so-called anti-boycott law, which penalizes organizations and individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or its settlements.

Israel’s Hayom daily said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is to take action against Amnesty International for its June campaign “Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession.” Haaretz also said representatives of the organization will be summoned to a hearing at the Finance Ministry.

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The Amnesty campaign’s website had said back then, “We want governments to stop enabling the economy that keeps these illegal settlements growing and fuels the suffering of Palestinians: and you can help.”

Later on Tuesday, Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty, said the reports were “deeply alarming.”

She said the UK-based rights body has not been officially informed of any such action by Israeli authorities, but “if true, this would be a serious setback to freedom of expression and an ominous sign for the ability of human rights NGOs in Israel to operate freely and without arbitrary interference.”

The removal of Amnesty’s tax-exempt status would be “the latest effort by the authorities to silence human rights organizations and activists who criticize the Israeli government and call for accountability,” said the official.

Magdalena further said taking any punitive measures against Amnesty over its anti-settlement campaign “would constitute a brazen attack by the Israeli authorities on the organization’s legitimate human rights work.”

The file photo of a protest held by supporters of the worldwide anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Tel Aviv has defied international calls to stop its construction activities on the occupied Palestinian territories.

The regime has accused Amnesty of contributing to the worldwide anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause of ending Israeli occupation and oppression. Those include international trade unions, NGOs, initiatives, academic and business societies, trade unions, and cultural figures.

Last year, the regime allocated $32 million to fighting the high-profile movement. It has also banned anyone found to support the BDS from entering the Israeli-occupied territories.

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