UK’s largest trade unions have joined the growing international backlash against Israel’s blacklisting of six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as terrorist organisations with a damning joint letter to the government calling on Number 10 “to challenge this repressive move.”
“We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s outrageous decision to criminalise six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups by designating them as ‘terrorists’,” said the letter signed by TUC, ASLEF, BFAWU, NEU, PCS, RMT, UCU, UNISON and Unite the Union.
The group of unions denounced Israel’s authoritarian crackdown. “This attack is a brazen attempt to further restrict Palestinian rights and to silence and punish Palestinian human rights defenders already working against incredible odds,” said the letter.
They noted that the six organisations targeted by the Israelis are amongst those most effectively documenting Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights, including the building of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, attacks on Palestinians’ right to food sovereignty, and the illegal arrest and detention of Palestinians, including children.
“These organisations have made their voices heard internationally, including in the International Criminal Court and in UN forums, and they are undoubtedly targeted for that reason,” the group continued.
“Smearing, attacking, and banning the most vocal proponents for accountability and justice is a classic move for repressive regimes,” the unions explained while warning Israel’s authoritarian step not only posed a “threat” to the Palestinian people but also “to human rights defenders everywhere”.
Israel’s designation as an apartheid regime was also highlighted. “In the past year, human rights experts including Human Rights Watch and B’tselem have echoed what Palestinians have been saying for decades: that Israel’s control over Palestinians includes elements of the crime of Apartheid,” the letter added.
Calling on the UK government to publicly oppose what the unions described as a “draconian measure” they urged Number 10 to demand that Israel reverses it, and further, to begin to fulfil its own obligations to uphold international law and Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, and the right to oppose apartheid.
Their letter to the UK government coincides with a growing international backlash against Israel’s decision to blacklist the six Palestinians organisations. A group of US lawmakers entered a resolution condemning the decision as has the UN.
Israelis Against Apartheid, which has over a thousand signatories, also slammed the move. “Criminalising any form of dissent and resistance by indigenous Palestinians, by labelling them as terrorists while at the same time calling its own colonial practices, of oppression and dispossession, ‘self-defense’ is essential in order to sustain Israel’s settler-Apartheid system,” the group said.