In a joint statement, experts called the decision “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement and against human rights everywhere.”
“Silencing their voices is not what a democracy that adheres to accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do,” they add.
Calling on the international community to act, they argue that anti-terrorism legislation should never be used to unduly undermine civil liberties.
“The misuse of counterterrorism measures in this way by the Israeli government undermines the security of all,” said the panel of 17 experts.
The six renamed Palestinian organizations are Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Union of Agricultural Working Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Among the groups they work with are women and girls, children, peasant families, prisoners and civil society activists, all of whom face increased levels of discrimination and even violence, the officials said. experts.
According to UN experts, “these organizations speak the language of universal human rights”.
“They use a rights-based approach to their work, including a gender analysis, to document human rights violations of all kinds in Palestine, including business-related human rights violations,” they said.
The re-qualification as terrorist organizations effectively prohibits the work of these human rights defenders and allows the Israeli army to arrest their personnel, close their offices, confiscate their assets and ban their activities.
In at least one case, experts say, the decision may have been taken in retaliation for cooperation with UN entities.
“The IDF has frequently targeted human rights defenders in recent years, as its occupation has intensified, its disregard for international law has continued and its record of human rights violations has grown. is worsened, ”say experts.
They note that most international and Israeli human rights organizations face challenges, but also argue that Palestinian human rights defenders “have always faced the most severe constraints.”
Finally, the experts call on the international community to use its full range of tools to ask Israel to reverse this decision.
“These civil society organizations are the canaries of the human rights coalmine, alerting us to patterns of violations, reminding the international community of its obligations to ensure accountability and giving voice to those who do not have it. not, ”they conclude.
Special rapporteurs and other independent UN rights experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council. They are neither paid for their work nor are they employed by the UN, and are independent from any government or organization, and serve in an individual capacity.
West Bank settlements
On Sunday, Tor Wennesland, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said he was deeply concerned by the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
His statement follows the announcement by the Israeli authorities of tenders for the construction of more than 1,300 housing units in the occupied West Bank.
Mr. Wennesland reiterated that all settlements are illegal under international law, remain a substantial obstacle to peace and must cease immediately.