Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)

Profile

Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
Websitehttp://www.wclac.org/
Founded1991
In their own wordsAn “independent Palestinian, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization” that aims to “address the causes and consequences of gender-based violence within the Palestinian community as well as the gender-specific effects of increasing militarisation associated with the Israeli occupation.”

Funding

Activities

  • Offices in Ramallah, Hebron, and East Jerusalem.
  • According to its “Vision and Mission” statement, WCLAC “works to protect and promote women’s human rights within the framework of international human rights mechanisms and standards” through “monitoring, documentation and advocacy at the local and international levels; providing social and legal services to women victims of violence and those whose human rights have been violated; undertaking awareness, advocacy, training and legal reform programmes that ensure gender equality; developing the capacity of grassroots organisations and volunteer groups.”
  • In January 2020, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), of which WCLAC is a member, vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”

Demonization of Israel

  • WCLAC rhetoric includes accusations of “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “collective punishment,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
  • Accused Israeli forces of “resorting to extra-judicial killing, mass intimidation and collective punishment in order to maintain their grip on Palestinian territory in violation of basic international norms.”
  • Randa Siniora, General Director of WCLAC and former General Director of Al-Haq, has stated, “Although resistance against occupation and its arbitrary practices is legitimate under international law, and these acts are considered a part of the Palestinian people’s resistance and struggle against occupation in order to achieve their right to liberation and independence, the occupation forces call it ‘terrorism’ or ‘destructive acts.’”
  • In July 2020, WCLAC was a signatory on an urgent appeal to the United Nationsreferring to Israel’s alleged “shoot-to-kill policy” as “contributing to the maintenance of Israel’s apartheid regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, which, embedded in a system of impunity, prevents Palestinians from effectively challenging Israel’s apartheid policies and practices.”
  • In April 2020, to commemorate World Health Day, WCLAC was a signatory on a statement alleging that “Israeli apartheid undermines Palestinians’ right to health during COVID-19 pandemic.” According to the statement, “For decades, Israel has established and maintained an apartheid regimeover the Palestinian people through a plethora of laws, policies and practices designed to systematically fragment, isolate and oppress Palestinians…As long as Israeli impunity continues, it is the responsibility of all states to take effective measures, to uphold international justice and responsibility for the Palestinian victims, and to end the apartheid regime of Israel” (emphasis added).
  • In November 2017, WCLAC was a signatory on a call to support “A World without Walls” drawing comparisons between “Israel’s apartheid Wall on Palestinian land to the US Wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico.”
  • On April 17, 2017, WCLAC, as a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), released a statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day stating that “This year marks 50 years of torture of Palestinian political prisoners through a military system which has historically been endemic and various forms of physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment,” and calling on the International Criminal Court to “open an investigation into the case of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and bring those who have tortured, extrajudicially executed, forcibly transferred, and arbitrary (sic) detained Palestinians to be held to accountable.”
  • In November 2016, WCLAC sent a submission to Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories, on “Human Rights Defenders in the OPT…highlight[ing] the repressive environment within which human rights defenders (HRDs) work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The submission referred to Manal Tamimi as a “human rights defender,” then a fieldworker for WCLAC. Tamimi is now in “charge of international PR in the Palestinian Communications Ministry.”
    • Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel, i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” (See Appendix 1 for tweets.)
    • Far from condemning her actions, WCLAC has filed a complaint to the United Nations over the “Frequent targeting of Palestinian human rights defender: Mrs. Manal Tamimi.”
    • Following an official complaint by NGO Monitor, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights removed Manal Tamimi from the list of “human rights defenders.”
  • WCLAC’s website features a section titled “Occupied Lives,” highlighting anonymous and unverified “testimony” from women claiming to have been violently attacked or harassed by settlers and Israeli soldiers. In 2014, numerous statements were “produced with the assistance of the European Union” and “a grant from the Open Society Foundations.”
  • As a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), WCLAC referred to the resignation of William Schabas as the head of the UN inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war as a “charade put up by Israel” and “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms Israel’s latest and unfortunately far too common attempt to obstruct the work of the international human rights and justice mechanisms in investigating Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian population.” In fact, the resignation followed revelations that Schabas had previously done legal work for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – a clear conflict of interest that would have disqualified him from the beginning if it had been disclosed. Furthermore, Schabas’ record of anti-Israel biases includes repeated calls for prosecuting Israeli officials for alleged “war crimes” at the International Criminal Court.
  • As a member of the PHROC, co-signed a July 14, 2014 open letter calling in the EU and member states to “Immediately and unequivocally deplore Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects”; “Refrain from condoning Israel’s misuse of the notion of self-defence”; “Take the position that the root cause of the ongoing hostilities is Israel’s belligerent occupation and accompanied violations of international law”; and “Unequivocally support Palestinian accession of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

BDS Activities

  • In July 2020, in response to the “Report of the Special Rapporteur addressing Israel’s Collective Punishment Policy,” WCLAC called on “Third States to adopt effective measures to put an end to Israel’s illegal and inhumane policies of collective punishment, including sanctions and countermeasures, to bring the illegal situation to an end” (emphasis added).
  • In May 2020, WCLAC was a signatory on a statement calling for “Immediate targeted sanctions to stop Israel’s annexation and apartheid.” The statement further called for “A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspension of trade and cooperation agreements with Israel,” and “Investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid.”
  • In 2018-2020, WCLAC lobbied in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. WCLAC has signed multiple letters to the UN calling for the database to be implemented without further delay.
  • In February 2017, as a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), released a statement calling upon “the international community to abide by their international obligations” and “act immediately by imposing sanctions against Israel,” as a result of the passing of the “Regularization Law,” which is “another brazen tool for Israel to confiscate privately held and registered Palestinian property for its illegal settlement enterprise.”
  • In August 2016, submitted a joint complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur concerning review of the residency status of Omar Barghouti, a prominent proponent of BDS. The statement falsely describes BDS as “peacefully pursu[ing] a human rights agenda based on an international law framework”; in fact, BDS are tactics of political warfare, based on the exploitation of human rights double standards, comparisons to apartheid South Africa, and false accusations of “war crimes.”
  • In February 2016, issued a joint statement that “For decades, Israel has failed to uphold its duties as Occupying Power and has instead deepened its occupation and regime of colonialism and apartheid” and “affirm[ed] the right of all individuals to participate in and advocate for boycott, divestment, and sanction actions, and calls on states and businesses to uphold their related legal responsibilities” and stated that the EU November 2015 labeling move against Israeli settlement products is “insufficient,” calling for a complete ban (emphasis added).
  • In May 2005 signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel as a means to “isolate Apartheid Israel…forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”
  • Signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” which calls for an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.” These goals undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination and would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.

Partners

  • Maintains special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In this capacity, WCLAC files numerous submissions that promote anti-Israel agendas at the UN.
  • Member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which refused to sign the anti-terror clause that is a condition of US government funding, stating “that its members would not sign funding agreements that included the ATC [Anti-Terror Certificate]: this is now a condition for membership under PNGO byelaws [sic]” (emphasis added).
    • In April 2017, PNGO called on the international community not to “use aid to undermine legitimate Palestinian resistance.” According to PNGO, “We reject all de-legitimization or criminalization of lawful Palestinian resistance, whether in form of allegations of terrorism, anti-semitism or otherwise… We call on all governments and aid providers to respect our right to lawful resistance, support Palestinian human rights defenders, and ensure equal, impartial and transparent access to funding for all.”
    • In March 2016, as a member of Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), PNGO stated that “Israel’s current government, its most racist ever, has dropped all pretences of ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’. This has helped to expose Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to world public opinion like never before.”
  • Member of Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC).
  • Also a member of a number of organizations and networks including the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).
    • Regularly lobbies the EU and UN, “as well as in other fora and urges the international community to adhere to its own obligations and commitments under international law.”
    • Maintains four “Working Groups,” one of which is titled “Palestine, Israel and the Palestinian Working Group.” The Working Group focuses on “Accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity” and “The separation and fragmentation of the Occupied Palestinian territory, including through Israel’s settlement policy and the Gaza closure.”
    • In June 2017, EuroMed Rights, to mark “50 years of occupation, 50 years of impunity,” called on the EU and its Member States to “clearly call for the full dismantling of all settlements and outposts in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and reject any efforts to recognise these areas as legal” as well as “preventing the entry of illegal settlement goods into the EU market” (emphasis added).
  • Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, BIMKOM, B’Tselem, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, ICAHD, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, World Vision, and Yesh Din.

2017-2019 Grants (amounts in US$)

Donor201920182017
Broederlijk Delen45,77544,57545,038
DanChurchAid172,94231,83246,149
Bread for the World488,870154,536146,466
Oxfam Novib72,594119,39769,045
Norway291,716305,745336,547
Secretariat411,700
Switzerland280,000
OHCHR13,295
UNDP120,26840,008
CARE International66,025
Open Society Foundation 275,000

Appendix 1

All Articles about Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)