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

Profile

Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
Websitehttp://www.wclac.org/english/index.php
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.”

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 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 a March 22, 2017 press release, WCLAC lauded the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) report on the “Question of Apartheid” that accused Israel of being “guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid,” and “called upon the ICC Public Prosecutor to open an investigation into Israel’s commission of the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people and to bring those responsible into justice.”
  • 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 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 February 2016, WCLAC alleged that “Regarding mental health, the occupation itself was noted as a major cause of problems. Depression, anxiety disorder and psychological distress are the most common mental disorders. Research in east Jerusalem has shown that the psychological toll of demolitions and forced evictions hits women harder.”
  • Published a September 2014 report, “Jerusalem: A City Divided,” promoting the Palestinian narrative of the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) and accusing “Israeli settlements [of] forming a concrete and human shield.” The report was funded by the European Union and Oxfam.
  • 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.
  • WCLAC’s submission to the “UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Summer 2014 Gaza Conflict” consisted of “evidence” of Israeli “violations of international law” based on unverified testimony of 36 anonymous women, recorded by unnamed field workers. The report places sole blame for the conflict on Israel, making no mention of Hamas war crimes, rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, terror tunnels, or Hamas’ exploitation of the civilian population in Gaza as human shields.
  • 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.”
  • Its 2014 Semi-Annual Report accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “human rights violations,” “women’s rights violations,” and seeking “to “suppress resistance” by “targeting civil society in order to obtain land and continue to undermine the economic stability, the growth and the development of Palestinian society.”
  • In October 2012, published “Women’s Voices: Glimpses of life Under Occupation” meant to “illustrate some of the day-to-day challenges faced by Palestians living under prolonged military occupation through the eyes of ordinary women.” The report was produced with the financial support of France.
  • In its submission to the UN Commission on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2011, WCLAC neglected to discuss women’s rights issues inside Israel, as well as incidents of violence against women in Palestinian society such as honor killings. Instead WCLAC focused primarily on blaming Israel for women’s rights issues in the Palestinian Authority.

BDS Activities

  • 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).
  • WCLAC’s 2014 annual report claims that “the international BDS movement has continued to gain ground with the American Presbyterian Church voting to divest $21m from Israel.” Under “international and national landmark days,” WCLAC listed that it organized a “mass rally for a boycott of Israeli goods.”
  • WCLAC joined an April 2012 campaign against companies doing business in Israel, calling to “intensify[ing] the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system. In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.
  • 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 was instrumental in producing many of the preparatory documents for the Durban 2001 conference including the document calling for embargoes on Israel.
    • 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.

2014-2016 Grants

Amounts based on WCLAC’s 2014 Annual Report unless specified.

Donor 201620152014 Amount (in USD)
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding of Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands)230,000
Caritas146,725
Oxfam Novib (Netherlands)139,956
Norway NOK 2.6 million509,763
Bread for the World- EED (Germany)206,730
Broederlijk Delen (Belgium) €50,000€60,00052,400
Iceland 50,000
Open Society Institute 50,000
UNDP30,000
DanChurchAid (Denmark)26,960
France€34,20015,250
Germany 13,063
AECID (Spain)€128,825

Appendix 1

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