The American Bar Association (ABA) has rejected Israel’s decision to classify six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations.
On behalf of the ABA, its chairman, Reginald Turner, wrote in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: “We ask that you consider the concerns that some members of the international community have expressed about whether the procedures used [in making this designation] inappropriately deprive persons or organizations of their rights”.
“Indicted persons are always entitled to the presumption of innocence. International law recognizes that the requirements of a fair trial may be modified in the fight against terrorism and that States may have recourse to exceptional courts, in particular military tribunals,” the letter added.
According Wafa news agency, the ABA letter was also sent to high-level Israeli officials, US and international officials who engage with Israel, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
On October 19, 2021, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz designated six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s National Counterterrorism Law, which has was ratified in 2016.
READ: Palestinian rights activists barred from attending UN civil society forum
The Israeli military commander in the occupied West Bank also banned the six groups, calling them “illegal associations”.
The move also drew criticism from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who called the terrorist listing of Palestinian NGOs an attack on human rights defenders. , freedom of association and the right to public participation, saying the decision should be revoked immediately.
Bachelet said the organizations are among “the most reputable humanitarian and human rights groups in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, which have worked closely with the UN for decades.
The six groups designated by Israel as terrorist organizations are the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.