UN Agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) have expressed their concern at the Israeli army banning of six Palestinian NGOs operating in the occupied West Bank.
"The decision on 7 November of the Military Commander in the West Bank to declare by Military Orders the six Palestinian NGOs as unauthorised in the West Bank," the UN and AIDA said, "is a further erosion of civic and humanitarian space and stands to significantly constrain the work of the six organisations which have worked with the international community, including the UN, for decades, providing essential services to countless Palestinians."
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lynn Hastings, confirmed that the Israeli allegations against the NGOs are being taken very seriously. "To date [though], none of the UN agencies nor AIDA organisations have received written documentation which could serve as a basis for the allegations." She added that they will continue to engage with all relevant partners for more information.
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The official UN-AIDA statement pointed out that, "Counterterrorism legislation must be in accordance with obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include full respect for the rights to freedom of association and expression."
It stressed the "strong commitment to the indispensable role of civil society in democratic life and in finding peaceful solutions to conflict," noting that many AIDA members work with and some financially support the organisations in question.Â "Previous allegations of misuse of our funds by Palestinian civil society organisation partners have not been substantiated."
In conclusion, the UN Agencies and AIDA said that they will continue to stand by international law and civil society organisations that promote international humanitarian law, human rights and democratic values.