Israeli human rights organizations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: resume issuing visas to OHCHR staff; ties were severed by previous government as part of attempts to silence those promoting human rights in the oPt
Almost a year ago, in an unprecedented step, then-Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, decided to “sever ties” with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). As part of this decision, the work visas of OHCHR personnel are no longer approved or renewed, forcing the office’s international staff to leave, and preventing the arrival of new personnel. Shortly after, on October 20, 2020, Israeli human rights organizations wrote to the Minister
to demand he reverse his decision, but received no reply.
On August 30, 2021, following the change of government, the organizations wrote to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid
, who recently declared Israel was committed to the values of human rights and democracy. The organizations clarified that severance of ties with OHCHR and the refusal to renew its staff’s visas undermine the work of the UN Commissioner’s office, operating in the West Bank for the past 25 years. The organizations went on to assert that this is another step in the persistent efforts of successive Israeli governments to silence justified criticism of their unacceptable policies in the oPt.
The organizations called on the Minister to rescind the measures taken against OHCHR staff, to renew their visas as required, to issue new visas, and to allow OHCHR to properly continue its work.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel | Amnesty International Israel | Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research | Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights | Breaking the Silence | B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories | Emek Shaveh | Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement | HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual | Haqel – In Defense of Human Rights | Ir Amim - For an Equitable and Stable Jerusalem with an Agreed Political Future | Physicians for Human Rights – Israel | Rabbis for Human Rights | The Association for Civil Rights in Israel | The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel | Torat Tzedek – Torah of Justice | Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights
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