290 organizations call on US President to stop Israeli government’s attacks on Palestinian civil society

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Over 290 civil society organisations from the United States of America (USA) and around the world recently called on US President Joe Biden to stop Israeli government’s attacks on Palestinian civil society.

In a letter sent to President Biden and posted on the website of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the CSOs said that the US administration’s yielding response to the Israeli government’s attacks “has put the safety and well-being of Palestinian human rights defenders at serious risk.”

They called the US administration to take an “immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest escalation so as to curtail any further imminent repressive tactics by Israeli authorities and ensure Palestinian civil society is free to continue its critical work.”

They criticized the US administration for its response to the designation of seven Palestinian CSOs as “terrorist”.

“While many in the international community were swift to condemn the Israeli governments shameful political maneuver in October 2021 designating leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” under Israel’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law, your administration has refused to act or reject this clear attack on Palestinian civil society, and even took affirmative steps including canceling the valid U.S. visa held by the head of one of the targeted organizations,” the letter read.

“The response so far has only enabled and empowered the Israeli government to sustain and escalate its repression,” it added.

The signatories of the letters noted that the targeted Palestinian CSOs “form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, and justice and accountability for international crimes.”

They pointed to the fact that “international human rights groups, the United Nations, and governments that did investigate Israel’s claims found them to be baseless” and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “assessed information passed on by the Israeli government earlier this year finding none of the so-called evidence supported the Israeli government claims,” while recalling that members of Congress have called on the US administration to condemn and reject the Israeli government’s clear attack on Palestinian civil society.

“As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen first-hand the ways that the charge of “terrorist” and the so-called “war on terror” threatens not only international human rights defenders, but also social movements and marginalized communities here in the U.S.: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges.”

“A threat against the Palestinian human rights movement is a threat against movements for social justice everywhere, and in order to protect human rights and human rights defenders, all states must be held accountable for taking such manifestly unjust actions.”

The signatories called on President Biden to “condemn the Israeli government’s repressive tactics and escalating campaign of criminalization and intimidation against Palestinian civil society organizations and their staff and board”; and to “reject the Israeli government’s unsubstantiated accusations levied against Palestinian civil society organizations and demand Israeli authorities rescind the designations.”

They also called on him to “take diplomatic action, in concert with European counterparts, that serves to protect the targeted Palestinian organizations, their staff and board, premises, and other assets;” and to “refrain from imposing any obstacles or policies that would prevent direct engagement between the U.S. government and Palestinian civil society, or otherwise preclude full, comprehensive public understanding of the severity and impacts of Israeli repression.”

They urged him to “end U.S. efforts to undermine the right of Palestinians and Palestinian civil society organizations to pursue justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court;” as well as to “ensure no actions are taken at the federal level that in any way encumbers funding from U.S.-based organizations or individuals to the targeted Palestinian organizations.”

They also urged him to “suspend U.S. military funding to the Israeli government and cease any diplomatic efforts that enable systemic impunity for Israel’s gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.”

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