On December 20, 2019, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda announced that she intends to investigate alleged war crimes in the “State of Palestine.” This move is to a significant degree the product of consistent and heavy lobbying of the ICC for over a decade by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These include Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, and a number of groups with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, and funded by Europe.
In some instances, the European funding to Palestinian NGOs was explicitly earmarked for their activities vis-à-vis the ICC. For instance, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat – a joint funding mechanisms of the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark – distributed “emergency funding” to Palestinian NGOs to document “large scale violations of human rights and international humanitarian law – the majority against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects.”
These organizations are not credible sources of information for the court. Their ties to the PFLP terror group, as well as their promotion of BDS and other anti-Israel activities, should be disqualifying for any independent and objective body.
- Addameer received 120,000 CHF from the Swiss government in 2018. According to the Swiss government contract, Addameer is expected to “follow up for the submission to the ICC, and to file a new report” (emphasis added).
- According to media reports, Khalida Jarrar – listed by Addameer as the vice chair of its board of directors until 2017 –reportedly played a leading role in the PA’s ascendency to the ICC.
- Jarrar has served several stints in Israeli prison for her role in the PFLP, including her conviction for calling to kidnap Israeli soldiers. She was re-arrested on October 31, 2019 on suspicions of “involvement in terror activity.” On December 18, 2019, the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) revealed that Jarrar has “emerged as the head of the PFLP in the West Bank“and [is]responsible for all the organization’s activities.” Concurrently, she served as a leading member of Addameer’s board of directors, through 2017. (emphasis added).
- According to Fatah, Addameer is an affiliate of the PFLP. Several of Addameer’s current and former employees, as well as lawyers that work for Addameer, are linked to the terror group.
- Addameer listed Samer Arbid as its accountant for several years on its website. According to Israeli security officials, on August 23, 2019, he commanded a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing against Israeli civilians, murdering 17-year old Rina Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother. According to the indictment, Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.
- The organization received a 450,000 Euro grant from the EU for 2016-2019, and a CHF 77,221 grant from the Swiss government for 2017-2019. In the Swiss government contract, Al-Dameer is required to “provide information and reports to the International Criminal Court on human rights violations committed by the IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces]” (emphasis added) (On file with NGO Monitor).
- Al-Dameer has organizational ties to the PFLP, as seen in their joint November 2018 workshop, addressing prisoners’ issues.
- Additionally, according to Palestinian sources, in recent years, Al-Dameer officials, employees and board members have taken part in public PFLP gatherings, including congratulating the terror group on the anniversary of its founding, and participating in a PFLP delegation in Gaza.
- Al-Dameer advances BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) in different forums and participated in campaigns targeting international firms such as G4S, and Veolia.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
- PCHR received a 280,000 CHF grant from the Swiss government in 2018, a 340,000 Euro grant from the German government in 2017, and a 80,000 Euro grant from the Irish government in 2017. In the Swiss government contract, PCHR is required to “Conduct[ing] communications with the Office of the General Prosecutor of the ICC and other intn’l litigation mechanisms.” (emphasis added) (On file with NGO Monitor)
- According to the Washington Post, PCHR Director Raji Sourani served a three-year prison sentence from 1979-1982 due to his role in the PFLP. He has participated in public PFLP events, including in 2017.
- According to a December 27, 1985 Israeli media report, the deputy director of PCHR’s board, Jaber Wishah, served as “the head of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza.”
- He was sentenced to life in prison and spent 15 years in Israeli prison from 1985-1999, after being convicted of “holding a leading position in a terrorist organization of which he was a member, intentionally attempting to kill an Israeli Staff Sergeant in Gaza, configuring a bomb and planting a bomb, possession of fire arms and conspiring to commit murder.”
- 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.”
- In July 2016, lobbied the British government to arrest former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes committed during the 2009 Gaza conflict.
- Received EUR 300,000 from the EU for 2017-2020, EUR 1.19 million from Italy for 2018-2020, and NOK 2 million from Norway in 2018.
- Al-Haq General Director Shawan Jabarin is tied to the PFLP. As a result, his requests for Israeli exit visas have been denied on several occasions, and he has been denied entry by Jordan. In a series of court cases in 2007-2009, the Israeli High Court of Justice found Jabarin to be a senior PFLP activist (2007, 2008, 2009).
- Al-Haq is one of the leading Palestinian BDS actors, and has pressured the French government and French companies such as Orange, to cut ties with Israeli banks, companies and projects.
- Together with Al-Mezan, lobbied British authorities in 2009 to issue an arrest warrant for former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
- In 2016, lobbied British authorities to issue and arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini.
- Al-Mezan received a 450,000 Euro grant from the EU for 2017-2020, and a 200,000 grant from the Dutch government in 2018. In the Dutch government funding contract, Al-Mezan is expected “to ensure that “information on IHRL [international human rights law] and IHL and violations in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territories] are disseminated locally and internationally.”
- Like PCHR, 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.”
- In 2016, defined BDS activity as “peacefully pursu[ing] a human rights agenda based on an international law framework.”
- Held a 2016 event in the European Parliament, promoting the discriminatory UN “blacklist” of companies operating in Israel.
- Together with Al-Haq, lobbied British authorities in 2009 to issue an arrest warrant for former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also been a leading proponent of an ICC investigation targeting Israel. It has promoted this agenda by pushing the PA to ascend to the ICC, lobbying the ICC prosecutor, and publishing reports with spurious arguments alleging Israeli violations of international law.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Ken Roth, Middle East head Sarah Leah Whitson, and Israel and Palestine Country Director Omar Shakir, HRW has launched campaigns that seek to harm Israeli banks and soccer clubs, and have targeted platforms promoting tourism.
Amnesty has long worked to advance BDS campaigns, including supporting BDS legislation in the US and in Ireland, as well as calling on governments to impose an arms embargo on Israel. Following the publication of its January 2019 report targeting tourism in Israel and the West Bank, Mayor of Frankfurt Uwe Becker stated, “Amnesty International is promoting ethnic cleansing…[and] walking in the footprints of the antisemitic BDS movement.”