FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - October 26, 2021
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Strongly Opposes Designation of Palestinian Human Rights Groups as Terrorist Organizations
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) strongly opposes the Israeli Defense Ministry’s decision issued last week to declare six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations. The named organizations include: Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. Many of these human rights organizations work closely with the international community to develop Palestinian civil society, document human rights violations, and defend Palestinians in Israeli courts. For many years several of these organizations, along with others working to document human rights violations against Palestinians, have contended with the Israeli military raiding their offices, contributing to the shrinking of civil society spaces in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
As one of the co-founders of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, DCIP, for example, has built strong partnerships with civil society spaces in the U.S. and abroad, and with policymakers in Congress. Their work focuses on defending the rights of Palestinian children held in Israeli military prison and pressuring the Israeli government to end child detention. The labeling of these organizations as “terrorist” undermines the credibility of these groups within the international community and is a direct assault on the basic human rights of Palestinians.
In a statement, Kevin Vollrath, Manager of Middle East Partnerships at CMEP, said, “The work of these organizations ensures that the basic rights of Palestinians are realized by holding governments accountable for human rights violations. For decades these organizations have worked for peace in Israel and Palestine. Effectively outlawing their work is anti-democratic and has grave implications for the work of human rights organizations everywhere.”
CMEP calls on the Members of Congress and the Biden Administration to investigate the allegations by the Israeli government and to pressure the Israeli Defense Ministry to overturn their decision. CMEP also calls on US churches and our partners to advocate for and protect Palestinian human rights organizations to allow them to continue their work for justice and peace.
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.