Rabat - Israel will no longer grant work permits to foreign members of Human Rights Watch (HRW), which it accuses of bias, the NGO said on Friday.
Rabat – Israel will no longer grant work permits to foreign members of Human Rights Watch (HRW), which it accuses of bias, the NGO said on Friday.
HRW, one of the most prominent rights monitors in the world, denounced Israel’s decision to deny entry to its new Israel and Palestine country director, called the measure “shocking.”
Israeli authorities denied Human Rights Watch’s application for a work permit for its Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, on the grounds that “ the NGO’s “public actions activities and reports have engaged in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the flag of ‘human rights’,” the the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a letter sent to HRW on Monday, February 20.
Emmanuel Nahshon, a top spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, confirmed that Israel rejected the visa request for Shakir, basing its decision not on the individual but on its low opinion of Human Rights Watch.
“We said no. It’s very simple. We consider the group to be biased, systemically hostile toward Israel. In a way, we consider them absolutely hopeless,” Nahshon said.
Several months ago, Human Rights Watch, which has established many critical reports on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, applied for a visa for Omar Shakir, the new director of its office in Israel and Palestine, who is a US citizen.
On February 20, the Israeli authorities replied that this request had been rejected because, according to them, HRW “is not really a human rights organization,” said HRW, a New York-based communicated.
The Israeli government refused to allow the American investigator from Human Rights Watch into the country, saying on Thursday that the group is “systematically anti-Israel” and works as a tool for pro-Palestinian propaganda.
Nahshon accused HRW of “constantly showing that it was a fundamentally biased and anti-Israeli organization with a hostile agenda.”
In its letter to the HRW, Israel’s immigration service said it based its rejection on an advisory from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which noted that “for some time now, this organization’s public activities and reports have engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.’”
The letter did not cite specifics in the letter reports AFP.
HRW stated that Israel’s denial of a work permit to Human Rights Watch comes amid increasing pressure on human rights defenders operating in Israel and Palestine under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, considered to be one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history.
A law passed by the Knesset in July 2016 targets human right groups, imposing difficult reporting requirements that burden their advocacy. Israeli officials have directly accused Israeli advocacy groups of “slander” and discrediting the state or army.
Palestinian rights defenders have received anonymous death threats and have been subject to travel restrictions, and even arrests and criminal charges.