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Israeli human rights organizations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: reverse the decision to sever ties with the OHCHR; this constitutes a violation of Israel’s UN-charter obligations and a further attempt to silence those acting to expose human rights violations in the oPt

On October 20, 2020, human rights organizations in Israel appealed to Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi to reverse his decision to “sever ties” with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). As part of this decision, the work visas of OHCHR personnel are no longer approved or renewed, forcing the office’s international staff to leave, and preventing the arrival of new personnel.

The organizations clarified that severance of ties with OHCHR and the refusal to renew its staff’s visas undermine the UN Commissioner’s work in the region and violate Israel’s obligation, under the UN charter, to cooperate with its agencies and allow them to operate in the territory under Israel’s control, to carry out their work and to fulfill the UN’s mission.

The organizations went on to assert that this is another step in the persistent efforts of successive Israeli governments to silence justified criticism of their policies in the oPt, which inherently involve grave, ongoing and far-reaching violations of the human rights of millions of Palestinians. As part of these efforts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and other Israeli bodies have been conducting a targeted campaign – both overt and covert – of defamation, denunciation, and expulsion against Palestinian, Israeli, and international organizations and activists working to expose the truth about Israel’s policy in the oPt.

The organizations called on the Minister to rescind the measures taken against OHCHR staff, to renew their visas as required, to issue new visas, and to allow OHCHR to properly continue its work.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel | Amnesty International Israel | Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research | Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights | Breaking the Silence | B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories | Emek Shaveh | Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement | HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual | Haqel – In Defense of Human Rights | Ir Amim - For an Equitable and Stable Jerusalem with an Agreed Political Future | Physicians for Human Rights – Israel | Rabbis for Human Rights | The Association for Civil Rights in Israel | The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel | Torat Tzedek – Torah of Justice | Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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