PCHR loses another case, presses on with conferences
On 26 October 2009, the Netherlands Court of Appeal rejected a complaint brought by Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Daniel Machover against Ami Ayalon, former head of the Israeli Security Services, for alleged “torture.” The dismissal of the case marks yet another failure by PCHR to carry out its strategy of harassing Israeli officials by exploiting universal jurisdiction statutes in Europe and elsewhere. Courts in England, Spain, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the US have all dismissed similar cases filed by PCHR, finding them to be without merit.
PCHR is funded by the European Union, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Holland, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and Christian Aid.
Despite the repeated rejection of PCHR’s tactics, the NGO continues to promote allegations of Israeli violations of human rights. On October 8, 2009, PCHR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hosted a conference that dealt with “extra-judicial executions committed by Israeli Occupation Forces against Palestinians as a form of execution without trial.” As evident from a November 2008 conference in Cairo, PCHR uses this issue to promote the “prosecution of Israelis suspected of committing war crimes.” (The 2008 event was funded by the European Commission, as part of a €349,000 grant to PCHR and Oxfam Novib.)
Spanish Parliament amends law, curbing NGO exploitation
On October 15, 2009, the Spanish Parliament approved (319-5) an amendment to Spain’s universal jurisdiction law, limiting such cases to those involving Spanish nationals or where the alleged perpetrators are located in Spain. The new law will prevent NGOs from initiating criminal investigations against officials from foreign governments regarding events having no connection to Spain and without the knowledge or approval of Spanish officials.
Pro-Palestinian organizations had exploited the Spanish legislation to pursue “war crimes” charges against Israeli officials. In June 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) filed suit against several Israelis for the death of Salah Shehade, leader of Hamas’ military wing and responsible for attacks that killed and wounded hundreds of Israeli civilians.
In 2009, NGOs also initiated cases against several officials in the Bush administration. While NGOs such as PCHR claim such suits are to obtain “justice” for victims, these cases are filed primarily for the propaganda impact.
For more on anti-Israel lawfare, see
- NGO Lawfare: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, NGO Monitor Monograph Series
- Anne Herzberg, Lawfare Against Israel, Wall Street Journal (Europe), November 5, 2008.