Editor’s Note: The following statement was published today by broad coalition of over 70 Palestinian civil society organizations calling for sanctions against Israel for its plans to illegally annex parts of the West Bank. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.
Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Effective Measures by all States to Stop Israel’s Illegal Annexation of the Occupied West Bank and Grave Violations of Human Rights
- Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel.
- Suspend free-trade agreements with Israel.
- Prohibit all trade with the illegal Israeli settlements and ensure that companies refrain from/terminate business with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
- Ensure that individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid are brought to justice.
Israel’s new right-wing government is once more set to formally annex large swathes of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). This de jure annexation would culminate years of gradual de facto annexation through the appropriation of land, forcible displacement of Palestinian population and the transfer of Israeli settler population in the OPT.
Indeed, Israel has violated the laws governing belligerent occupation since 1967 by progressing its colonization of the Palestinian territory. This has been facilitated by the imposition of an apartheid regime of racial discrimination, segregation and territorial expansion that is enshrined in Israel’s domestic law.
Institutionalized since 1948, this Israeli regime may constitute “a single regime of domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, including the Palestinian population inside Israel,” as argued by international law scholars John Dugard and John Reynolds. All of this continues to deny the Palestinian people our right to self-determination and other fundamental human rights.
We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society unions, organizations, human rights and advocacy groups, concur with the UN expert on human rights in the OPT: “The looming annexation is a political litmus test for the international community” and for its ability to uphold international law.
We therefore remind all States of their international obligation to cooperate to end grave violations of international law committed by any State through lawful countermeasures, including sanctions. In light of Israel’s pending de jure annexation, we are calling on all States to comply with this obligation by adopting effective countermeasures, including sanctions, to end Israel’s unlawful acquisition of Palestinian territory through use of force, its regime of apartheid, and its denial of our inalienable right to self-determination.
Whereas international law does not prescribe any particular measure, we call on the UN General Assembly and Security Council, national governments worldwide, as well as on the European Council of the EU, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the African Union, BRICS, Mercosur, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and others to adopt and enforce, immediately and as a matter of priority, a comprehensive ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel, and to suspend free-trade agreements with it.
A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel, as a means to bring to an end its serious violations of international law, clearly meets the authoritative criteria of lawful sanctions that were elaborated by the UN International Law Commission: Such a targeted ban does not constitute a UN Charter-prohibited act of threat or use of force; it does not violate humanitarian obligations or fundamental human rights, and it is targeted and proportional with the gravity of Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of the Palestinian people affected.
A similar ban was adopted repeatedly in the past by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council in resolutions that condemned apartheid as a crime against mankind and a serious threat to international peace and security.
We commend the more than 130 British MPs who have urged the UK government to adopt sanctions should Israel’s government go ahead with its annexation plan.
Equally important, all States have an international obligation to not recognize as lawful a situation created through grave violation of international law, and to give no aid or assistance in maintaining that situation. The UN Security Council has called upon “all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in [connection] with settlements in the occupied territories.” We therefore call on governments, legislators and political parties to, as a first step, adopt national legislation that will prohibit all trade with illegal settlements within their jurisdictions, following the example of the Irish Parliament.
We further call on national governments to ensure – by means of guidance, effective policies, legislation and enforcement measures – that companies within their jurisdiction, or domiciled in their territory, respect human rights and humanitarian law and refrain from/terminate business with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. In this context, governments should promote the UN database of companies involved in business with Israel’s settlements and support the mandated annual updates of the database by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Finally, we call on all States to investigate and support the investigation of individuals and corporate actors in their jurisdictions responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the OPT. We urge States parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to respect and support the Prosecutor’s request to open a formal investigation into the Situation in Palestine, and protect the Prosecutor, staff at the ICC, lawyers, judges and Palestinian civil society working on providing evidence to the Court, and Palestinian victims, from retribution and attacks by Israel and the United States.
For 53 years, Israeli governments have systematically undermined international law with impunity through the piecemeal annexation and colonization of occupied Arab territory both de jure, as in the case of the Palestinian East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1982, and de facto through the illegal settlements and wall in the West Bank.
Multiple resolutions of the United Nations affirm the prohibition of acquisition of territory by force and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, condemning and declaring null and void Israel’s annexation of occupied territories, and calling on Israel to comply with international law.
Calling on Israel to rescind its annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, the UN Security Council even in 1980 affirmed in Resolution 476 “its determination … to examine practical ways and means … to secure the full implementation of this resolution,” while the UN General Assembly in 1982 called for sanctions against Israel, including a ban on military trade and cooperation, in response to Israel’s annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Many around the world have condemned US President Trump’s “deal of the century” as not only an attempt to undermine Palestinian rights under international law, but also as an assault on international law itself. Yet, the international community as a whole has persistently failed to perform its legal obligations vis-a-vis Israel’s grave violations, emboldening Israel’s government to proceed with formal annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Far from deterring Israel’s illegal acts, criticism and rhetorical denouncements by the United Nations and its members alone, without adopting concrete measures that give effect to their international obligations, will only encourage Israel to irreversibly extinguish any possibility of a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace in our region.
Initial Palestinian civil society signatories:
- Members of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), including:
- Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Mankind
- Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
- Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
- Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
- Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP)
- Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)
- Aldameer Association for Human Rights
- Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
- Hurryyat – Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
- The Independent Commission for Human Rights (Ombudsman Office) – Observer Member
- Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights – Observer Member
- Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO)
- Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition
- Palestinian Bar Association
- Palestinian Medical Association
- General Union of Palestinian Teachers
- Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)
- General Union of Palestinian Women
- General Union of Palestinian Writers
- Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
- Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine
- General Union of Palestinian Workers
- Palestinian Union of Postal, IT and Telecommunication workers
- Palestinian National Institute for NGOs (PNIN)
- Federation of Independent Trade Unions
- Union of Palestinian Farmers
- Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)
- Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)
- Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
- Coalition for Jerusalem
- National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba
- General Union of Palestinian Peasants
- Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations
- Union of Professional Associations
- Women’s Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products
- Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps
- Agricultural Cooperatives Union
- National Committee for Grassroots Resistance
- Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions – Gaza
- Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC)
- Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
- Women Study Center (WSC PAL)
- Palestinian Feminist Center for Sexual and Gender Freedoms – Aswat, Haifa
- Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development
- Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)
- MADA – Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms
- Wasel Center for Youth Development
- Youth Development Society
- The Cultural Forum Center
- Early Childhood Sources Association
- Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
- Human Rights & Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”
- Rural Women Development Association
- Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
- Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)
- Health Work Committees
- The National Union of Civil Society Organizations, Nablus
- Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society, Jerusalem
- Land Defense Coalition
- Federation of New Trade Unions
- Tamer Institute for Community Education
- Palestinian Youth Union
- Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI)
- Popular Art Center (PAC)
- Teacher Creativity Center
- The Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy (PCPD)
- Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)
- Seeds Association for Development and Culture
- Palestinian House of Friendship
- Palestine Friend’s Association
- Yafa Cultural Center