Nine UN human rights investigators have appealed to the European Union (EU) to pressure Israel to reverse its decision to classify six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations.
In a letter published over the weekend, the nine investigators urged EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, to set a time frame for Israel to provide evidence of the charges against them.
“Demand that Israel publicly presents, within a short and defined time frame, concrete and credible evidence that the six Palestinian organisations are, and operate as, terrorist organisations,” the investigators wrote.
“Demand that, if Israel fails to present such evidence … it should fully and publicly withdraw its allegations and the designations without delay.”
Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, claimed last month that the organsations take orders from the PFLP, which is also designated as a “terrorist” entity by Israel, due to its resistance against the occupation.
The move also sparked criticism by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who called the terror listing of the Palestinian NGOs an attack on human rights defenders, freedom of association and the right to public participation, saying the decision should be immediately revoked.
Bachelet said the organisations are some of the “most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory” that have worked closely with the UN for decades.
Those who signed the letter include Michael Lynk, the sitting UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The six groups Israel designated as terrorist organisations are Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine, and Union of Agricultural Work Committees.