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OIC, PLO condemn Israel’s ‘terrorist’ designation of Palestinian human right groups

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)
Israeli forces arrest young Palestinian men outside al-Quds’s Old City, July 21, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have condemned Israel for placing six Palestinian human rights groups on the regime’s so-called terror list, lambasting the move as an unlawful decision and a flagrant violation of international law.

In a statement on Monday, the OIC denounced Tel Aviv’s decision as an arbitrary and unlawful move, rejecting the unfounded allegation both as a brazen violation of international humanitarian law and international instruments guaranteeing the right to form civil society organizations and deliver humanitarian community services, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.

The organization further condemned the Israeli decision as counterproductive to the so-called “peace process.”

Israel’s Minister of Military Affairs Benny Gantz said in a statement on Friday that the ministry had designated the six civil society groups of Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees as “terrorist organizations.” The decision will authorize the regime to effectively outlaw the activities of these civil society groups, close their offices, seize their assets, and arrest and jail their staff members. Furthermore, Tel Aviv will also prohibit funding or even publicly expressing support for the groups’ activities.

Israel’s ministry claims the groups have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Palestinian resistance movement, alleging that they are funneling donor aid to anti-Israel resistance groups.

The OIC also stressed that these groups have an absolute right to do their jobs under the Palestinian law, and, in association with international institutions, to identify, document, and expose violations committed by Israel, and to defend human rights and deliver humanitarian community services across the occupied Palestinian territories. It also called on active international stakeholders to pressure Tel Aviv to rescind its grossly unfounded decision.

The Executive Committee of the PLO, for its part, condemned Israel on Sunday for the arbitrary and controversial decision, stressing that it is a flagrant violation of international law, human rights, and the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people, Wafa reported. The organization further slammed Tel Aviv’s move as a means to pave the way for more annexation, occupation, and settlement expansion.

“What the occupation government and its agencies are doing is specific terrorism against the Palestinian people and civil society institutions to prevent them from playing their role in supporting the steadfastness of Palestinian society and its needs, and in exposing the crimes of the occupation against human rights,” the PLO said.

The organization also stressed that the decision is yet another attempt to prevent the establishment of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital, calling on the international community and human rights, humanitarian and international organizations to play their role to stop this fierce attack against the Palestinian people and their institutions.

Israel’s move has drawn criticism from several human rights watchdogs. The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, the Arab League, and several American legislators have already denounced the decision.

Separately, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on Sunday voiced deep concern over the Israeli settlement expansion announcement, Wafa reported.

“Today, the Israeli authorities announced tenders for the construction of more than 1,300 housing units in the occupied West Bank,” the UN official said.

His statement came shortly after the Israeli Ministry of Housing said in a statement that tenders have been published for 1,355 units in the occupied West Bank and final approval is expected from the ministry of military affairs this week for these settler units. The ministry further noted that the new units would be added to more than 2,000 settler units, which – reports said in August – would be authorized for Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion.

All the Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in several resolutions.

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