Palestine, delegitimization in progress


Civil society organizations are extremely alarmed by Israeli Defense Ministry Benny Gantz’s recent decision to designate six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorists” . This is the culmination of a long campaign of defamation, denigration, delegitimization and intimidation that the Israeli government has been carrying out for years, also with the support of organizations such as NGO Monitor, against Palestinian civil society organizations engaged in the defense and promotion of human rights.

The provision is based on the Israeli law against terrorism adopted in 2016 , with which broad powers are given to the Ministry of Defense regarding the adoption of administrative measures, with serious repercussions of a criminal nature. Human rights defenders working for these organizations are threatened with arrest , closure of offices and confiscation of assets . If all this were to happen, significant and concrete damage would be created for the civilian population , especially women and minors, who would be deprived of one of the few instruments of protection against the violations committed by both Israeli and Palestinian entities.

The persecutory intent and willingness to stifle the crucial work being done by these organizations is evidenced by the fact that the reasons given for the designation are vague or undefined . The objective of this measure is not only to discredit the designated organizations, but also to marginalize the importance of the principles and instruments of international law , first and foremost the right to self-determination, which these organizations promote and pursue.

Furthermore, the decision to accuse of terrorism organizations which for decades have been engaged at the highest levels in the promotion of human rights and whose reputation and esteem is proven by numerous international awards, including the direct access which is granted to some of them to the bodies of United Nations by virtue of the special consultative status at ECOSOC, and by direct cooperation also with international cooperation agencies, including the Italian one, is an intimidating political message that cannot be ignored.

The Government of Israel is indirectly accusing the States and intergovernmental organizations that have a history of cooperation with these organizations: the budgets of the programs financed by the organizations are in fact controlled by the agencies of the donor countries and their budgets are subjected to annual audits performed by external auditors certificates as required by Palestinian law.

This decision also has the objective of ending the financial support of the international community for the various humanitarian , development, study and research interventions carried out by these organizations, whose contribution to the protection of human rights and the construction of a just peace based on the rules of international law is essential.

Given the clear persecutory nature of the military order, which renders it of dubious legitimacy, Italian civil society organizations are demanding that the Italian Government take steps to have the decision immediately revoked , unless the Government of Israel demonstrates, in a clear and unequivocal, the legitimacy of the defamatory accusations underlying the decision adopted. By doing so, Italy would avoid the risk of recognizing or supporting, even indirectly, persecutory and discriminatory conduct that hinders the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination , as recognized by the peremptory norms of international law.

Platform of Italian CSOs in the Middle East and Mediterranean
AOI – Italian NGO Association
CINI – Italian International NGO Coordination
Link 2007
Civil Society for Palestine
Italian Peace and Disarmament Network