JERUSALEM – Numerous “human rights” NGOs welcomed the signing of the May 4 “reconciliation agreement” between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as other terror organizations including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). However, Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor notes that few NGOs called on Hamas or these other terror organizations to renounce their support for violence, terrorism, incitement to genocide and the destruction of Israel. NGOs also ignored Security Council Resolution 1373 that prohibits any direct or indirect material or financial support for terror organizations.  This highlights the NGOs’ role as political activists, as distinct from moral watchdogs.

Excerpts of NGO statements:

  • Oxfam: “As Palestinian political factions are making strides towards an interim unity government, the aid agency calls on the international community to abandon the failed policy of non-engagement and begin dialogue with all the major Palestinian parties.

Demands on Hamas: NONE

  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights: “Al Mezan welcomes the agreement and… re-asserts that the occupied Palestinian territory is under occupation under the international law, which requires Palestinian political powers and civil society to exert all their efforts to confront the systematic and grave Israeli violations of international law towards the realization of Palestinian self-determination.”

Demands on Hamas: NONE

  • Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR): “[We] welcome this agreement… The international community should reconsider all policies adopted against the PNA following the latest Palestinian legislative elections of January 2006, which contributed to inflaming the internal Palestinian crisis and constituted a major factor of the internal fighting that resulted in a division that impacts all components of the PNA, and even the whole Palestinian social structure.”

Demands on Hamas: NONE

  • Al Haq:Al-Haq would like to reiterate its support for Palestinian political reconciliation as a crucial first step for the Palestinian people to achieve their national goals of freedom and eventually enjoy their right to self-determination.”

Demands on Hamas: “It is essential that the recommendations made by the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission on the violations of international law committed by the Palestinian sides in connection with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ are implemented.”

  • Christian Aid: “Christian Aid partners in Gaza hope that the unity accord… will be a step towards alleviating the dire humanitarian situation there… The unity agreement is only a first step of many towards securing an end to the current situation. It will be a long path which must be supported.”

Demands on Hamas: NONE

Notes Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor: “NGOs purporting to protect human rights welcomed this unity agreement without demanding that Hamas end indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians, free Gilad Shalit, and stop its use of human shields, among other blatant violations of basic human rights. These self-proclaimed ‘human rights’ groups again fail to apply their principles and mission statements to all citizens in the region.”

“The exception among NGOs has been J Street’s demands that the Palestinian leadership show zero tolerance for violence and support Peace initiatives with Israel.”

  •  J Street:Overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas… has always been a precondition for final resolution of the conflict… We are well aware that there are those in Hamas who are not interested in a two-state solution but who seek the long-term destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish national home… there are many questions that the new Palestinian leadership must answer in the coming weeks and months. Is the Palestinian Liberation Organization – as the official representative of the Palestinian people – still committed to a two-state solution? Is it willing to reaffirm its renunciation of the use of violence and terror against Israeli civilians? Will existing security understandings be honored? Will rocket fire from Gaza be stopped?… We urge the United States, Israel and the international community to respond to this new development with caution and questions, but not with hostility.”

Demands on Hamas: “We will urge the Palestinian leadership to ensure that any new government affirm that it will maintain a policy of zero tolerance for violence, will abide by prior agreements and will pursue a two-state resolution to the conflict that recognizes the state of Israel.”