Reactions against the Arbitrary Israeli Designation of Palestinian CSOs

This page includes a list of links and selected quotes from reactions by the UN and EU Officials, European States and international NGOs and organisations condemning the designation of Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) as “terrorist organisations” by the Israeli Minister of Defence on 19 October 2021.

The reactions in the list are just a selected part of the numerous criticism expressed by organisations, journalists and activists.

The ELSC will update this list on a weekly basis, by collecting the reactions capable of mobilising the public opinion and the international community.


Joint Stakeout by EU members of the UN Security Council Estonia, Ireland, France, as well as Norway and incoming UNSC member Albania, 08.11.21

“We also take very seriously the listing of six Palestinian organisations as terrorist organisations by Israel’s Ministry of Defence. These listings are a matter of serious concern, as they have far-reaching consequences for the organisations in political, legal and financial terms.” … “A thriving civil society and respect for fundamental freedoms are corner stones of open democracies.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 26.10.2021

“Israel’s decision … is an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation, and should be immediately revoked.”
“The designation decisions under the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016 are based on extremely vague or unsubstantiated reasons”

UN Special Rapporteurs, joint statement, 25.10.2021

“This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere” … “Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do. We call upon the international community to defend the defenders.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association, 24.10.2021

“Defending human rights, calling for accountability, fighting against arbitrary arrests, is a legitimate work and must be respected, not shut by flawed terrorism laws.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, 22.10.2021

“Human Rights Defenders are not terrorists & should never be smeared like this.”


High Representative/Vice-President of the EU Commission Josep Borrell, 27.10.2021

“The High Representative stressed that listing six Palestinian organisations as terrorist organisations by the Israeli Ministry of Defence is a matter of serious concern. The EU will very closely examine the allegations. Finally, he added that civil society organisations are a force in promoting international law, human rights, and democratic values, across the world and in Palestine.”

European Union Delegation to the Palestinians, 25.10.2021

“Past allegations of the misuse of EU funds by certain Palestinian CSO partners have not been substantiated. The EU Representative reiterated that the EU will continue to stand by international law and support CSOs that play in promoting IHL, HR, and democratic values.”

European Commission Spokesperson, 25.10.2021

“We are looking into those allegations and were are in touch with Israeli partners to seek clarifications… Past allegations and past suspicions of EU funds in relation to certain Palestinian organizations have not been substantiated”.


The Netherlands:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17.11.2021

“The information on which the six listings are based is not public. In bilateral contacts and through the EU, the Netherlands has called for this information to be shared with donors, as well as the six concerned organizations. Israel has indicated its willingness to share the information with the Netherlands through the appropriate channels … this information has not yet been received. In May 2021, separately from this, Israel has shared information about Palestinian NGOs … This information did not prompt the Netherlands to revise its position concerning these NGOs.” (translated from Dutch)


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 02.11.2021

“We have asked for, as has the EU, the evidence basis for designating those NGOs … we have not gotten any credible evidence to link the NGOs to terrorism, certainly not that I have seen”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27.10.2021

“Ireland is committed to funding … Palestinian civil society, and maintains robust checks to ensure that our funding is used only for the purpose intended. As stated by UN human rights experts …: ‘anti-terrorism legislation … must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organisations’ … human rights defenders play a critical role in promoting international law, peace, human rights and democratic values.”

France: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, 26.10.2021

“France reaffirms its attachment to the indispensable role of civil society in democratic life. It is the responsibility of States to create and maintain an environment conducive to their work. We hope that the Israeli authorities will provide clarifications.”

Sweden: Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem/Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25.10.2021

“[Sweden] did not receive advance info on the decision to designate [Palestinian] NGOs, incl. Sweden’s partner orgs, as terrorist orgs. Previous allegations of misuse of [Swedish] funds not substantiated. Concerned and shrinking space for [Palestinian] civil society.”

Belgium: Development Minister, 28.10.2021

Concerned about Israeli MoD’s decision to consider 6 Palestinian NGOs, including partners of BE organizations, as terrorist organisations. Accusations of terrorism are always taken seriously, but should not be used to prevent legitimate activities. Previous allegations were found to be unsubstantiated. Clarification will be requested. Civil society has an important role in promoting human rights and humanitarian law. Their operation is increasingly under pressure. They deserve our support.” (translated from Dutch)

Germany: Federal Foreign Office spokesperson, 27.10.21

“From the German Government’s point of view, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the ability of a strong civil society to act, are crucial. We are committed to this with our partners, of course also in the Middle East. We are therefore very concerned about this Israeli decision.” (translated from German)

Italy: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 27.10.21

“I can only express concern over the Israeli designation of six Palestinian humanitarian and fundamental rights NGOs as ‘terrorist organisations’. Many of these organisations have fruitful collaborative relationships with numerous Donor Countries, including Italy, for the implementation of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance projects. Italy believes that the role of civil society organisations is fundamental and indispensable in the promotion of human rights and democratic values.”


Minister of Foreign Affairs, 03.11.21

“If there is insufficient documentation to support the allegations, we will request that the decision be reversed.” (translated from Norwegian)

Minister of Foreign Affairs, 28.10.21

“We are very concerned that Israel has now terrorized six Palestinian civil society organizations … The decision will make the room for manoeuvre for civil society and especially human rights work in Palestine even more limited than it already is. This will hit vulnerable groups such as children, women and poor farmers particularly hard, says the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The human rights organizations in Palestine report human rights violations from both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and receive support from a number of international donors. Previous reviews of the affected organizations carried out by various donors have not revealed any indications of involvement in terrorist activity.” (translated from Norwegian)


Font Line Defenders, 08-11-21

“This move is intended to not only criminalize these organizations, but to cut off their funding and other forms of support they receive from international partners and supporters. Front Line Defenders condemns Israel’s effort to criminalize support for well-respected and long-serving human rights defenders and their organizations, as it has when other such measures were introduced in countries like Russia, Egypt and Nicaragua.”

International Trade Union Confederation and Global Union Federations, 29-10-2021

“The Global Union Federations and their members around the world call for the Israeli government to reverse the designation of the Palestinian human rights groups as terrorists and cancel the decision to add 4,000 more homes to the illegal settlements.”

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), joint statement, 26.10.2021

“Such a move represents an existential threat to independent human rights organizations who work on violations of human rights in Palestine. The announcement … is the latest in Israel’s institutionalised and ongoing smear campaign and attacks against the human rights community of Palestine, in order to deny Palestinians their right to freedom of assembly and association by criminalizing [CSOs] that provide vital human rights work and social services.”

EuroMed Rights, 23.10.2021

“The Israeli authorities take one step further in their strategy to close down the human rights movement in Palestine. The numerous smear campaigns – touted by groups such as NGO Monitor and the Israeli government itself – reach another unprecedented threshold with this move, putting the abovementioned CSOs under imminent threat of disappearance, and the whole human rights community in jeopardy.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International joint statement, 22.10.2021

“Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent [CSOs]. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.”

Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, 22.10.2021

“Palestinian CSOs are under relentless attack as they are again targeted by delegitimization campaigns led by the Israeli government. This latest move is part of an alarming trend aimed at censoring those documenting human rights abuses. CSOs should be able to work without retaliation and with protection. The international community must show solidarity, denounce this decision and call on Israel to reverse it immediately.”

Center for Constitutional Rights, 22.10.2021

“These organizations are pillars of Palestinian civil society, and we are proud to have joined many of them in their crucial work to expose and seek accountability for Israeli human rights abuses. Our partners have … been targeted for years by Israeli authorities and their proxies. … [I]t is incumbent upon all those striving for justice, equality, and freedom to ensure that this project fails. History is rife with examples of oppressive regimes weaponizing terrorist designations to smear those who stand up against their oppression.”

Palestine Legal, 22.10.2010

“Israel’s expansion of the so-called “terrorist” designation is racist propaganda based on unfounded accusations … [which aims] to isolate Palestinians organizations doing critical work to expose Israel’s constant violations of Palestinian rights … Baseless terrorism accusations are a scare tactic that causes enormous harm to Palestinians, and rely on guilt by association in the most attenuated forms.”



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