JERUSALEM - At a time when citizens of Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, Tunisia, Yemen, Gaza, and elsewhere are demanding freedom and rejecting attempts to blame problems on Israel, the UN will hold another International Meeting on the Question of Palestine on March 7-8 in Vienna. The timing of this event corresponds with “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) activities, which are part of the broader BDS and Durban strategy of demonization. In Vienna, officials from numerous highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will take part in the UN-sponsored event, entitled “The Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Prisons and Detention Facilities,” notes Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

“While hundreds of millions of people throughout the Middle East are standing up to brutal regimes and demanding basic human rights, these NGOs and the corrupt UN system continue collaboration in the obsessive and disproportionate assault on Israel,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Under the façade of ‘human rights,’ this UN-NGO partnership diverts attention away from the atrocities of totalitarian regimes. Much like IAW, this is nothing more than a politically motivated demonization event against Israel.”

The UN Meeting is one of several organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People each year. Many of the speakers promote a “one state” policy, seek the elimination of Jewish self-determination, and have used antisemitic rhetoric.

This meeting will feature representatives from NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Al Haq, Defence for Children International –Palestine Section, Addameer, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, HaMoked, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.  These NGOs receive substantial funding from European governments and/or the New Israel Fund.

“By participating in this farce, the NGOs show their continued commitment to the strategy developed at the 2001 Durban Conference to exploit human rights in order to demonize and isolate Israel,” Steinberg adds. “In this ‘mini-Durban conference,’ no scheduled sessions will examine the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Palestinian Authority and Hamas jails – and certainly no sessions on the plight of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier held incommunicado by Hamas for over 1,700 days, and denied access to the Red Cross, all in blatant violation of international law.”

Scheduled speakers include:

  • Iyad Misk, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, Coordinator of the Legal Unit (funders include NDC [governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands], ICCO [Netherlands], Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Save the Children).
  • Niv Michaeli, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Intervention Coordinator, Prisoners and Detainees Project (New Israel Fund, EU, NDC, Diakonia (Sweden), Oxfam, Christian Aid, Ford Foundation).
  • Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq[1],  General-Director (Ireland, Netherlands, OSI, NDC , Ford Foundation, Christian Aid, and Diakonia).
  • Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, HaMoked, Advocate, Legal Department (NIF, EU, UK, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, NDC, and Diakonia).
  • Sahar Francis, Addameer, Director, (NDC, Christian Aid).
  • Said Benarbia, International Commission of Jurists, Legal advisor, Middle East and North Africa Programme (Austria, Finland, Cyprus, Britain, Sweden, Ireland, France, Greece).
  • Bana Shoughry-Badarne, Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Director, Legal Department (EU, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Finland, UK, and NDC)
  • Shawqi Al Issa, Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Director.
  • Nasser Alryyes, Al-Haq, Legal Researcher.
  • Saleh Hijazi, Human Rights Watch, Researcher (OSI, Ford Foundation, Trocaire [Ireland], Oxfam Novib [Netherlands]).

Session titles at the March conference include:

  • “The current situation and conditions of imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention facilities”
  • “The issue of Palestinian political prisoners and the Israeli-Palestinian political process”
  • “Arrests and detentions of Palestinians by the occupying Power.” 
  • “Legal aspects Available legal mechanisms to ensure compliance with international law and responsibility of Third Party.” (Lawfare)

[1] Jabarin is an alleged “senior activist” in the PFLP terror organization. He was appointed to HRW’s Middle East Advisory Board in January 2011.