The South African government on Friday said it “denounced the decision by Israel to designate and brand six Palestinian civil society organisations without justification as terrorist organisations”.
Pretoria, which is challenging Israel’s recently acquired observer status in the African Union (AU), said it strongly objects to Israel’s “unjust and without justification” the designation and branding of six civil society organisations as terrorist groups.
The six organisations include Al Had Centre for Applied International Law, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Union of Palestinian Women Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work.
This week on Tuesday, the Israeli government, declared all six organisations as “terrorist organisations” under Israeli domestic Anti-Terrorism Law of 2016.
“This was done without any proper justification and credible evidence,” said South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in a lengthy statement on Friday.
“These organisations offer, amongst others, free legal aid assistance to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, conduct key academic research on significant issues relating to improving Palestinian lives.
“Most importantly [they] are a source of advancement through research for Palestinian farmers using various agricultural projects.”
Pretoria said it further notes that these organisations now illegally branded by Israel as terrorists have been in existence for more than 30 years, collectively and “have been operating peacefully, transparently and within legal prescripts”.
South Africa called on the Israeli government to stop the systematic disruption of the essential services provided by these organisations by de-classifying them as non-terrorist organisations.
Pretoria also urged Israel to allow the renewal of all operational licenses of these organisations and other Palestinian organisations legitimately providing services to Palestinians.
Other demands by South Africa were that Israel allows – with immediate effect – all of these organisations to oversee their projects in Jerusalem.
Israel must grant the necessary access to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and interrogation centres, where Palestinian prisoners are detained, said Dirco.
Israel must also allow all agricultural experts access to agriculture sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In the statement attributed to Clayson Monyela, Dirco spokesperson, the South African government reiterates that “the continued occupation by Israel of Palestine remains totally unjust and shameful as it takes away the human rights of Palestinians”.
South Africa said it remains “unequivocally committed” to and values efforts aimed at reviving a political process, leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders.
The borders must be based on those existing on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in compliance with all relevant UN Resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters, said Dirco.
Last month, South Africa International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said the AU would discuss Israel’s newly awarded observer status with a view to rescind it.