Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups B’Tselem and Al-Haq have both received a prestigious French award, prompting a furious response from Israeli officials.
The five laureates of the 2018 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic were announced on Wednesday, an award which honours individuals or organisations that promote human rights.
The award ceremony will take place at the Ministry of Justice in Paris on 10 December, on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Attendees will include French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet.
In addition to B’Tselem and Al-Haq, this year’s winners include human rights defenders from China, Colombia, Belarus and Niger.
Responding to the news, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said it was “a particularly special honour to receive this award – together with our colleagues from Al-Haq – on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“We, at B’Tselem and Al-Haq, share the same values and the same realisation: that only by ending the occupation can there be a future based on human rights, equality and liberty.”
General Director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin said: “It is a great honour for Al-Haq to receive this prestigious award jointly with our colleagues at B’Tselem, who are our partners in the struggle for justice and a better future free from oppression and occupation.”
“Together, we are working to end the culture of impunity so that Palestinians can enjoy the full realisation of their human rights.”
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev slammed B’Tselem as “a Trojan horse”, and said the NGO should be ashamed to receive a prize with Al-Haq.
“Once again B’Tselem is celebrating an achievement against Israel and IDF soldiers. This is an organisation that should be rejected and its activities should be stopped,” she added.
Deputy minister Michael Oren, meanwhile, accused France of giving “its highest award to B’Tselem and al-Haq organisations that accuse Israel of apartheid, delegitimise us internationally, defend terror, and support BDS”, adding: “The same France cannot claim that it fights anti-Semitism.”