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July 18, 2022

Pressley Leads Letter to State Dept. Regarding Israeli Government’s Criminalization of Six Palestinian Human Rights Organizations

Decision Lacks Evidence, Undermines NGOs Supporting Women and Girls,
Low-Income Families, Prisoners, Civil Society Activists “The U.S. must always
and consistently speak out against efforts by all countries attempting to
undermine civil society and the necessary work of humanitarian organizations.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) led 21 of her colleagues in a letter, urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines regarding the Israeli government’s designation of six essential Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist organizations.” 

“A reported lack of evidence to support this decision raises concerns that it may be a deeply repressive measure, designed to criminalize and silence prominent and essential Palestinian human rights organizations,” the lawmakers wrote. “The U.S. must always and consistently speak out against efforts by all countries attempting to undermine civil society and the necessary work of humanitarian organizations.”

The six Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations – Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees – work directly with Palestinian women and girls, children, low-income families, prisoners, and civil society activists to provide direct services and monitor human rights abuses by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

“Counter-terrorism legislation must not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian activities,” the lawmakers continued. “Furthermore, repressive tactics such as criminalizing organizations must not be used to suppress or deny the right to freedom of association, or to quash political dissent, or limit the peaceful activities of civil society.”

In their letter, the lawmakers also requested an inter-agency briefing to discuss this designation and a report to Congress on their efforts within 30 days.

The letter was signed by Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) , Maxine Waters (CA-43), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Cori Bush (MO-01), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Marie Newman (IL-03), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), André Carson (IN-07), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Danny K. Davis (IL-07).

The letter is supported by over 130 local, national, and international groups and organizations, including: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, J Street, AJP Action, Americans for Peace Now, MoveOn, Oxfam America, Center for Constitutional Rights, Arab American Institute, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Union of Agriculture Work Committees, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Demand Progress Education Fund, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Just Foreign Policy, Adalah Justice Project, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CODEPINK, Peace Action, Presbyterian Church (USA), ReThinking Foreign Policy, Project South, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights,, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Veterans for Peace, Massachusetts Peace Action, MPower Change Action Fund, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Charity and Security Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Freedom Forward, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Win Without War, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, IfNotNow, The Episcopal Church, Progressive Democrats of America, Pax Christi USA, MADRE, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Muslim Justice League, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), ActionAid USA, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Norwegian Refugee Council, and Corporate Accountability Lab.

To read the full letter, click here.

During her time in Congress, Rep. Pressley has been a consistent advocate for a humanitarian approach to foreign policy that prioritizes justice and healing over state violence and militarization. She has joined colleagues in urging President Biden to support human rights and humanitarian needs in Cuba, called for a humanitarian response to the crisis in Ukraine, condemned human rights violations in India, and urged the United States to support a compassionate, inclusive, and civil-society led process to restore stability and democracy in Haiti.