Israel: Immediately rescind the designation of Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) stands in solidarity with Al-Haq and five other Palestinian civil society organizations formally designated as “terrorist organizations” on 19 October 2021 by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

هذا البيان متوفر باللغة العربية أيضاً

The designation came under Israel’s Counterterrorism Law of 2016, based on the unfounded and unproven allegation that they “belong [to] and constitute an arm of the organization[al] leadership” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

We call upon the Israeli authorities to immediately rescind these designations of Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

The work of Al-Haq and other civil society organizations in documenting and seeking accountability for the serious crimes under international law committed in the context of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including before the International Criminal Court, is vital to the defense of human rights. It must not be in any way conflated with terrorism or criminal acts.

Since 1979, when Al-Haq was founded in the West Bank as an affiliate of the ICJ and the first human rights organization in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organization has been a tireless champion of the rule of law and human rights in the OPT, documenting serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by the Israeli authorities, as well as violations by Palestinian authorities, supporting victims, and pursuing accountability. Its first report in 1980, the Rule of Law and the West Bank, was published jointly with the ICJ.   

The Israeli government’s designation carries with it the risk of serious legal consequences against Al-Haq and its staff. Al-Haq General Director, Mr. Shawan Jabareen, a Commissioner of the ICJ and a member of its Executive Committee, could face a criminal sanction of up to 25 years of imprisonment; Al-Haq staff members could be subject to prosecution and imprisonment; Al-Haq’s assets are at risk of confiscation; and its offices may be closed. If carried out, such actions would amount to persecution.

The process that led to these designations does not comply with international standards of due process or fair trial. The evidence the designation is based on remains secret, due to supposed national security considerations. Neither Al-Haq nor its representatives can have access to it.

The claim procedure against a “temporary designation” before the Israeli Ministry of Defense lacks the most basic guarantees of due process, independence, and impartiality. The final decision on the claim rests with the Minister of Defense, the same person that issued the “temporary designation.”

Orders and legal proceedings under the Counterterrorism Law, including with respect to “terrorist organizations” designations, can only be challenged before the Israeli Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, which in this capacity acts as a court of first and last instance, in an ex parte hearing with the government providing secret evidence that cannot be seen or challenged by the affected organizations.

We call on governments, and the international community as a whole, to reject these cynical designations and to not give effect to them, as well as to ensure that the concerned organizations are able to continue their critical work unimpeded


Kyong-Whan Ahn, Professor Emeritus, Seoul National University Law School

Justice Adolfo S Azcuna, Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Emeritus

Dame Silvia Cartwright, former judge of the High Court of New Zealand, of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and former Governor-General of New Zealand, PCZM, DBE, QSM

Martine Comte, Honorary Prime President of Orléans’s Court of Appeal

Roberta Clarke, Chair, ICJ

Radmila Dragicevic Dicic, Judge of the Supreme Court of Cassation in Serbia

The Hon. John Dowd AO QC

Gamal Eid, Executive Director, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Egypt

Leilani Farha, Global Director, the Shift, and Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing (2014-2020)

Nahla Haidar El Addal, UN-CEDAW, Vice-Chairperson

Robert Goldman, ICJ President and Professor of Law and Louis C James Scholar, American University Washington College of Law

Gulnora Ishankhanova, Lawyer, Uzbekistan

Hina Jilani, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders

Judge Qinisile Mabuza, Principal Judge of the High Court of Eswatini

Juan E. Mendez, Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence (Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2010-2016)), Washington College of Law

Willy Mutunga, ICJ Commissioner – Kenya

Egbert Myjer, Former Judge ECHR (2004-2012) elected in respect of The Netherlands

Belisario dos Santos Jr., Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Brazilian Bar Association)

Michael Sfard, Adv., Israel

Kalyan Shrestha, Former Chief Justice of Nepal and Coordinator of the Constitution Watch Group in Nepal

Wilder Tayler, ICJ Commissioner – Uruguay

Honorary Members

Andrew Clapham, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India

The Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC, former Chief Judge of Family Court of Australia

Jenny E. Goldschmidt, Emeritus Professor in Human Rights Law, Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University

Prof. (em.) dr. P.J.G. Kapteyn, Former Member of the Dutch Council of State

Manfred Nowak, Professor of International Law at Vienna University and Secretary General of the Global Campus on Human Rights in Venice

Michèle Rivet, Former Vice President, ICJ, and Former Chief Justice, Quebec Human Rights Tribunal

Sections and Affiliates

Geir Kjell Andersland, Head of Committee on the Rights of Children, ICJ Norway

Terje Einarsen, Chairperson of ICJ Norway

Donald T. Fox, Chairman, American Association for the International Commission of Jurists, Fox Horan & Camerini, LLP

Frida Halvorsen, Board Member and Head of ICJ Student’s Network, ICJ Norway

Ketil Lund, Former ICJ Commissioner, ICJ Norway

Zahid Rajan, KenyansforPalestine

Dr Eva Rieter, Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM), Senior Researcher and Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Public International Law, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Dhr. Mr. Marcel van der Stroom, Legal and Strategic Officer, Dutch Sector of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM)

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