Threats cannot stop anti-settlement campaign: Israeli NGO

Threats cannot stop anti-settlement campaign: Israeli NGO

Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:20AM

An Israeli rights group, which recently took the podium at the UN to speak against the regime’s illegal settlement activities, has vowed to keep up its anti-occupation campaign despite the recent of wave of threats by officials in Tel Aviv.

In a Saturday statement, B’Tselem said Israel has been violating the Palestinians’ rights over the past five decades, stressing that neither the rights group nor the opponents of the regime’s occupation would be deterred by Tel Aviv’s threats.

The statement came after David Bitan, the parliamentary chairman of Israel’s ruling coalition and a leading member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, called for revoking B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad’s “citizenship.”

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday, Bitan said that he was “examining the legal possibility” of taking such a measure against El-Ad, accusing him of breaching the regime’s trust.

In response, El-Ad said on Twitter that Bitan is resorting to threats against those who “spoke before the UNSC against the occupation.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Israeli anti-settlement Meretz Party, Zehava Galon, accused Bitan of a “very dangerous” attempt to “obtain political gains on the back of B’Tselem.”

On October 14, El-Ad attended an informal UN Security Council session on Tel Aviv’s continued construction of illegal settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories and condemned 49 years of “injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”

He further urged a “decisive international action” to bring unlawful settlement construction activities to a halt.

The comments angered Netanyahu, who took to Facebook and said B’Tselem has joined the “chorus of mudslinging” against Israel.

The Israeli premier also vowed that he would bar Israelis from doing volunteer work at B’Tselem as a means of doing their military service.

Responding to Netanyahu, B’Tselem said it would “continue to tell the truth: The occupation must end.”

The rights group also emphasized that it believed the Israeli public deserved a serious debate on the occupation.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon had reacted harshly to the speeches, saying it was “sad and disappointing that Israeli organizations are providing moral cover for anti-Israel activities at the UN.”

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territories.