Israel’s recent designations of Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, has raised ” serious concern” for the European members of the UN Security Council.
The listings “have far-reaching consequences” for the organizations “in political, legal and financial terms,” the members said.
EU members France, Ireland and Estonia — joined by Norway and incoming UNSC member Albania — said they will be seeking more information from Israel on the basis for these designations, “which we will study carefully.”
In a joint statement following a closed UNSC meeting on the issue, they added: “A thriving civil society and respect for fundamental freedoms are corner stones of open democracies. Civil society is an essential contributor to good governance, human rights, international law, democratic values and sustainable development across the world, including in Israel and Palestine. It also contributes to peace efforts and confidence building between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The meeting came amid news that the mobile phones of six Palestinian human rights defenders were targeted by spyware from the Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group.
Three of the targets are connected to the NGOs that the Israeli military has recently accused of terrorism.
The European UNSC members also called on Israel to stop settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to cancel recently announced plans to build thousands more housing units in the Occupied Territories.
“We reiterate our strong opposition to the expansion of settlements and will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties,” they said, urging “both parties” to avoid actions that “undermine the two state solution.”
They added: “We urge all parties to refrain in particular from all forms of violence and incitement targeting the civilian population.
“We will continue to support steps towards sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”