Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
|In their own words||An “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.”|
- In 2021, total income was $2.4 million; total expenses were $2.3 million.
- Donors include Human Rights & International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”; joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norway, European Union, Germany, Canada, Iceland, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Bread for the World (Germany), Open Society Institute, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Caritas Switzerland, and UNDP. (See table below for detailed funding information.)
- In 2019-2023, WCLAC is an implementing partner on numerous projects funded by the European Union:
- For a project ending April 2019, WCLAC received €2.5 million from the European Union’s East Jerusalem Programme to “Protect the rights and improve resilience of vulnerable communities in East Jerusalem.” The project “partners” are the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Palestinian Agricultural Development Association (PARC), and the Palestinian Counselling Centre (PCC)/Jerusalem Coalition.
- WCLAC, PMRS, and PARC support BDS initiatives through participation in activities and events, signing of petitions and initiatives, and/or membership in BDS platforms.
- In 2016-2019, WCLAC received €700,215 from Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) for “Strengthening Resilience in East Jerusalem” and “Conflict & Fragility.”
- 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.’”
- On November 28, 2022, WCLAC signed a joint letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan urging him to “Investigate and Deter Israel’s Apartheid Regime.” According to the letter, “Though mindful of the Court’s limited resources and budgetary complications, as well as your office workload and challenges, we are compelled to stress that Palestinian victims deserve justice and require equal attention as in other situations…we will continue our cooperation with your office and our support of your investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine.”
- In September 2022, WCLAC endorsed a campaign titled “Investigate and Dismantle Apartheid.” The campaign is a “global Palestinian-led anti-apartheid effort…directed towards activating UN mechanisms to investigate and dismantle Israel’s apartheid regime by mobilizing grassroot efforts.”
- In August 2022, following criticism against the UN Commission of Inquiry’s use of antisemitic rhetoric, WCLAC signed a joint statement “extend[ing] their full support and pledg[ing] their ongoing cooperation with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Palestine.” The statement affirmed that “the present Commission is a crucial step toward the recognition and remedy of Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime as the root cause of Israel’s perpetual violations of international law in Palestine.”
- In July 2022, Commissioner Miloon Kothari made antisemitic comments on a podcast, claiming that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and questioned whether Israel should have UN membership. In a letter to UNHRC President Federico Villegas, Commissioner Navi Pillay refused to condemn Kothari’s remarks, stating his comments “have deliberately been taken out of context…[and] deliberately misquoted.” Dozens of countries, UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, and HRC President Federico Villegas condemned these remarks.
- In August 2022, WCLAC signed a joint statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. The statement called for the international community to “take effective measures to end all other actions that deny Palestinians their inalienable human rights” and to “their support and increase funding to the organizations and engage with financial institutions to ensure the transfer of funds to the organizations.”
- In May 2022, WCLAC was a signatory on a petition titled “The Return Appeal” calling on the United Nations to “take all necessary steps and measures for immediately holding the occupation’s state accountable for all the crimes, the latter has so far committed against the Palestinian people, within strict legal means that would not allow the occupation’s criminals to evade interrogation or possible trials.”
- In May 2022, WCLAC was a signatory to a flagrantly antisemitic report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent Commission of Inquiry against Israel. The submission presented a blatantly false historical account that denied Israel’s right to exist, categorized Israel’s very existence as illegal, and labeled Zionism as a form of racism, demanding that the Commission “Recognise and Address Zionist Settler Colonialism and Apartheid as the Root Causes of Israel’s Ongoing Violations.”
- In April 2021, WCLAC welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court to launch a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the “State of Palestine.” According to WCLAC, “This is a long-awaited and a critically important step towards ensuring the rule of law and ending impunity, while ensuring accountability for Israel’s crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
- In February 2021, WCLAC was a signatory on a joint statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council accusing Israel of “impos[ing] and proactively maintain[ing] an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people,” and calling to adopt “effective measures to overcome the system of apartheid imposed by Israel over the Palestinian people, end the occupation, and ensure accountability and reparation for all grave violations and international crimes within this context.”
- In July 2020, WCLAC was a signatory on an urgent appeal to the United Nations referring 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 regime over 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.”
- 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.”
- In September 2022, WCLAC was a signatory on a letter to the European Union to “review its decision to revive the Association Council Meeting, stop the recently signed gas deal and review its bilateral cooperation programmes.” According to the call, “Instead of allowing Israel to entrench its colonial enterprise and apartheid regime, rewarding it with further economic cooperation and trade of harmful military equipment and technologies, the EU and its Member States have an obligation, and interest, to hold Israel accountable and put an end to impunity.”
- In August 2021, WCLAC signed a letter to the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty calling to “put an end to Israel’s notorious use of arms and military equipment…by immediately imposing a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel.” According to the letter, “This systematic brutality, perpetrated throughout the past seven decades of Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, pro-longed illegal belligerent occupation, persecution, and closure, is only possible because of the complicity of some governments and corporations around the world.”
- In May 2021, WCLAC was a signatory on a statement calling to “Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspend free-trade agreements with Israel,” and “Ensure that individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid are brought to justice.”
- In September 2020, WCLAC called for the UN General Assembly to “Launch international investigations into Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, as well as associated State and individual criminal responsibility,” to “Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” and “Prohibit all trade with illegal Israeli settlements and ensure that companies refrain from and terminate business activities with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.”
- 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 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.
- 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).
- 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.
2021 Grants (amounts in US$)
|Bread for the World||175,616
|United Nations Population Fund||31,108
|Open Society Foundation ||100,000
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