Israeli Accusations of Witness’s Affiliation to Hamas: A Blatant Attempt to Mislead the United Nations
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) "PAHRW” applied for obtaining the consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s regular session in 2016. PAHRW successfully submitted all required documents and answered all questions addressed by the committee via e-mail. Furthermore, PAHRW was able to participate actively in two of the committees’ meetings in New York. And by the time when no representatives of the 19-states committee posed a single question, the representative of Israel singled out his continuous questions, but PAHRW’s representative was on the lookout; however, the representative of Israel asked PAHRW’s representative to provide written answers, which prompted the committee’s chairman to ask PAHRW’s representative to leave the podium and answer later. On its 2019 regular session, the United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations has accredited the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) with the consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) after answering all posed questions by the representative of Israel to PAHRW’s representative.
It is noteworthy to mention that PAHRW has been positively interacting with the questions of the United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations over a period of more than 3 years, which prompted recommending ECOSOC to grant PAHRW the consultative status.
On 6 and 7 June 2019, ECOSOC held its regular session in New York, where its agenda was to adopt the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, including the accreditation of PAHRW with the consultative status.
Thus, Israel agreed on the recommendations of the committee but took advantage of the technical procedures for adopting ECOSOC’s recommendations. These procedures permitted Israel to issue a draft resolution to mislead the member states of the committee without having to hear other party’s point of view and without adopting a mechanism to investigate in the Israeli claim - investigation procedure was adopted by the committee over the past 3 years regarding PAHRW’s application, which ended up recommending the consultative status to be obtained.
Accordingly, Israel has submitted a draft resolution before the 54-states council stipulating that PAHRW should not obtain the consultative status; furthermore, Dany Danon, the representative of Israel, has mentioned in the draft resolution that PAHRW is conducting political work and meets with leaders of Palestinian factions classified by Israel as terrorist organizations.
The draft resolution has been approved by 28 states, including USA, Germany, UK, France, India and Japan, while it was rejected by 15 states, including Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran; Egypt Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Yemen; 5 states were abstained from voting and 6 were absent.
The Saudi representative also noted his objection against the Israeli draft resolution PAHRW was accepted by the committee that examined all the documents and forwarded the request to ECOSOC; hence, it is not appropriate to present the organization's application to vote.
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) would like to extend its utmost gratitude to the states that rejected the Israeli draft resolution, hoping that states that approved the resolution to review the actual facts and do not fall victim to misleading headlines.
Who is the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)?
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) is non-governmental human rights association that look after the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. PAHRW works in accordance with the human-rights-related international standards, and calls for the supremacy of law in line with the International Bill of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. PAHRW also supports every available effort to ensure the concept of self-determination of the Palestinians.
PAHRW mainly has five tasks: Education, Training, Networking, Defending and Legal Consultation.
PAHRW also views that the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law are its main references under which it operates and calls for their primacy, in which it works in line with regulations acquired during a 21 years journey of human rights work.
To sum up:
First: The Israeli objection is not, by any mean, a substantive objection. It is a steer political objection owing to the fact that Israel had never, not even a once, supported or accepted the work of any association serving the Palestinian refugees. Therefore, this justifies its denial of the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness). Israel has always criticized the organizations of the United Nations, refused the entrance of United Nations Officials to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and called for shutting down UNRWA.
Second: The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) defends the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as well as, the people Israel forced to immigrate are now living in camps that are not compatible with the international standards. Aiming at mitigating their daily struggles, PAHRW follows up, in cooperation with the local authorities, international organizations, and diplomatic missions, on the refugees’ humanitarian conditions.
In this context:
1- PAHRW is a self-made association, doing a great job in the field of human rights, and depends mainly on its self.
2- The association issues annual reports, data and positions related to human rights in an ongoing basis. It shares out these materials with the public opinion and all the local and international bodies in order to see them.
3- PAHRW builds broad relations with the local authorities and the Lebanese Security Services. It also has many relations with the local Palestinian and Lebanese society. PAHRW directs the Palestinian officials to their responsibilities towards the governance in camps and the humanitarian and life conditions of the Palestinian refugees.
4- PAHRW has good relations with most of the diplomatic missions in Lebanon, including the missions of the permanent members of the United Nations, especially Russia, China, and Western United States, and it regularly meets the Humanitarian Affairs Officers in the American Embassy. PAHRW also constantly meets with the Foreign Diplomatic Missions, especially the European Union Mission, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Australia… in addition to the Asian Mission, in particular India and Pakistan.
Third: the Israeli objections about PAHRW are false. However, the human rights standards the association follows keep it from mixing between the political activity and human rights activity. All the literatures, reports, data, and notes issued by PAHRW are based on the standards of human rights.
Forth: the visits of PAHRW to factions’ officials go under the framework of public relations and networking with all the political forces that are influential in the life of Palestinian refugees. The association relations are balanced and objective. Can a human right’s association follow up on human right’s cases without connecting with all parties? What Israel could say about the United Nations officials visit to Gaza and their meeting with the officials of Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
Fifth: PAHRW is determined to move forward in its human rights work, defending Palestinian refugees, and it will keep insisting on its independent and neutral policy that is based on the United Nations professional standards and its noble humanitarian principles.
Beirut, 14 June, 2019
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)