McCollum Resolution Calls on U.S. House to Condemn Israel’s Repressive Decision to Designate Six Prominent Palestinian Human Rights and Civil Society Groups as Terrorist Organizations
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced a resolution calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to condemn Israel’s decision to designate as “terrorist organizations” six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups working to defend the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. The decree signed last week by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has resulted in international condemnation as a repressive, anti-democratic act designed to silence organizations working to defend the rights of Palestinians. McCollum, author of H.R. 2590, Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, has worked for years on the legislation with one of the targeted groups, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). DCI-P’s legal advocacy for Palestinian children arrested, interrogated, abused, and imprisoned in the Israeli military court and detention system is vital to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable.
The McCollum resolution recognizes the important work of the six targeted Palestinian organizations, condemns the terrorist organization declaration by the Government of Israel, and calls upon the Biden administration to condemn Israeli actions to repress Palestinian society. McCollum released the following statement:
“When a government uses the label of terrorist as a weapon to silence the work of human rights organizations and advocates who courageously represent vulnerable people living in under military occupation, it is a sign of incredible weakness more aligned with an authoritarian regime than a healthy democracy,” McCollum said. “Israel’s decision to brand these prominent Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations exposes the truth that Israel’s occupation is violent, immoral, and unjust, and that peaceful efforts to defend the rights of Palestinian children, women, farmers, or prisoners must be declared illegal. The U.S. invests billions of our taxpayer dollars to support Israel’s security, not Israel’s system of occupation and repression of Palestinians. It is incumbent upon Democrats in the U.S. House and the Biden administration to condemn this Israeli decision and draw a clear line that anti-democratic repression of Palestinian civil society is not tolerated.”
“After years of delegitimization and disinformation campaigns have failed to silence our work, Israeli authorities now choose to escalate repressive tactics by labeling civil society organizations as terrorists,” said Khaled Quzmar, General Director for Defense for Children International – Palestine. “We are grateful once again for Congresswoman McCollum's bold leadership condemning this decision and we resolve to continue defending Palestinian children and exposing human rights violations inherent in Israel’s military occupation of Palestinians.”
The six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups subject to the decree are as follows:
- Defense for Children International - Palestine
- Investigates, documents, and exposes human rights violations against Palestinian children in Israeli military detention, who routinely undergo physical abuse and are frequently denied adequate access to a lawyer or their family.
- DCIP is the only Palestinian human rights organization specifically focused on children’s rights.
- Provides legal services to children targeted by the Israeli occupation and its military court system.
- Holds both Israeli and Palestinian authorities accountable to universal human rights principles.
- Al-Haq is the leading Palestinian human rights organization pushing for accountability for Israeli crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Documents human rights violations in Palestine irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator.
- Prepares reports, studies, and papers to share with the international community.
- Works with Palestinian organizations and the government to ensure that Palestinian law and policies abide by international human rights standards.
- Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization
- Tracks detailed data on Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinian children, political prisoners and those imprisoned without charge or trial.
- Tracks and raises awareness on conditions inside Israeli prisons that violate human rights.
- Works to end torture of Palestinian prisoners; offers free legal aid to political prisoners, and educations the public on prisoners’ rights.
- Bisan Center for Research and Development
- Serves as a community resource for research and development models for a besieged Palestinian society under Israel’s illegal military occupation.
- Works with low-income Palestinians to push for their socioeconomic rights.
- Develops community youth programs.
- Works to end violence against women through social campaigns, empowering grassroots groups, research, and media.
- The Union of Agricultural Work Committees
- Promotes the rights of Palestinian farmers facing threats of land theft and violence under Israeli occupation.
- Promotes sustainable farming practices and works to achieve food security in Palestine.
- Pushes for sovereignty over natural resources as the threat of climate change increases.
- The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
- Works to empower Palestinian women through promoting participation and representation in civil society institutions.
- Pushes against gender discrimination and encourages women to achieve economic independence.
- Educates young women about their rights.
- Provides psychological and legal support to women in need.
Rep. McCollum’s House resolution joins a chorus of condemnation of Israel’s actions:
- J Street: “J Street Condemns Israeli Defense Minister’s Order Labeling Palestinian Human Rights Groups as Terrorist Organizations”
- Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joint statement: “This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement.”
- B’Tselem, Israeli human rights organization: “The draconian ‘terrorist’ designation says nothing about the work of our Palestinian colleagues – but speaks volumes about the violence, brutality and arrogance the Israeli regime has been routinely employing against Palestinians for decades. Criminalizing human rights organizations is a cowardly act that is characteristic of oppressive authoritarian regimes. It must not be allowed to stand.”
- Haaretz, leading Israeli newspaper, Editorial: “The outlawing of human rights groups and persecution of humanitarian activists are quintessential characteristics of military regimes, in which democracy in its deepest sense is a dead letter…We can only hope that in the absence of internal resistance, the harsh U.S. reprimand and request for clarifications will end this shameful move.”
- United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner: “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.”
- Palestinian Christian organizations: “While reiterating the illegitimacy of this arbitrary decision and its grave implications to civil society organizations and human rights defenders, [we] call upon countries, the international community, partners and donors in general and international Christian institutions in particular, to reject and condemn this decision, prevent the Israeli occupation state from moving forward with these arbitrary and illegitimate practices in violation of international laws, to pressure Israel to revoke the decision; and to continue to support the right of Palestinians to justice, freedom, and dignity.”
McCollum’s resolution is supported by dozens of national and international groups, including Human Rights Watch. Original co-sponsors of the resolution are Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Andre Carson (IN-03), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rep. Marie Newman (IL-03), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01), and Rep. Chuy Garcia (IL-04).