UN, International Development Agencies Concerned about Israeli Ban on Palestinian NGOs

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin hands evidence of Israeli crimes in Gaza to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in November 2015. (Photo: via Al-Haq)

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 official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

“The decision on 7 November of the Military Commander in the West Bank to declare by Military Orders the six Palestinian NGOs as unauthorized 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 organizations 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 organizations 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.

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 organizations in question. “Previous allegations of misuse of our funds by Palestinian civil society organization 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 organizations that promote international humanitarian law, human rights and democratic values.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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