Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to bar national service volunteers from joining human rights group B’Tselem after the organization angered him with their testimony at the UN last week.
Netanyahu said in a Facebook post on Saturday he planned to change the national service law during the upcoming winter session of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset – a move he said the government’s legal adviser agreed to.
He went on to call the anti-settlement group “shoddy and unhinged”.
B’Tselem responded to Netanyahu’s remarks on Sunday, saying that “unlike the prime minister and his slander, we believe that the Israeli public is worthy of meaningful discussion of the occupation.
“But the prime minister has no answers for the Israeli public, so instead he tries to go after B’Tselem,” it added.
B’Tselem joined American Friends of Peace Now, the US affiliate of an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, at Friday’s informal Security Council session.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) October 16, 2016
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, told the meeting that with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war approaching next year, “the rights of Palestinians must be realized, the occupation must end, the UN Security Council must act, and the time is now”.
In a testimony at the UN Security Council last week, B’Tselem’s director, El-Ad, said Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem had essentially been allowed by the international community through its inaction, despite it being contrary to international law.
B’Tselem said it would not be intimidated by Netanyahu’s threat. In a statement, the rights group said: “We will not stoop down to the prime minister’s level. We will not be cowed and neither will the hundreds of thousands in Israel who opposed the occupation. We will continue to tell the truth: the occupation must end.”