Human Rights Watch slams Israel for denying work permit to it’s investigator

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NEW YORK, Feb 25 (APP): Human Rights Watch has denounced
Israeli government for denying work permit for its investigator
on the ground that the New York-based international watchdog
was engaging in ‘Palestinian propaganda.’
In its February 20, 2017 letter denying a work permit for
Omar Shakir, HRW’s Israel and Palestine director, the Israeli
Interior Ministry cited an opinion received from the Foreign
Ministry that Human Rights Watch’s “public activities and
reports have engaged in politics in the service of
Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner
of human rights.”
The denial comes as the authorities seek to limit the space
for local and international human rights groups to operate in
Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, HRW said.
“This decision and the spurious rationale should worry
anyone concerned about Israel’s commitment to basic democratic
values,” Iain Levine, deputy executive director of programme
at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Friday.
“It is disappointing that the Israeli government seems
unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms
of its actions and hostile political propaganda.”
Human Rights Watch said the decision was particularly
surprising given that the organization regularly meets and
corresponds with Israeli government officials, including
representatives of the military, the police, and the Foreign
Ministry.
Last year, the Foreign Ministry asked Human Rights Watch to
intervene in a case involving Israeli victims of human rights
abuses.
“The decision marks an ominous turn after nearly three
decades during which Human Rights Watch staff have had
regular access without impediments to Israel and the West
Bank. Israel, though, has refused Human Rights Watch access
to Gaza since 2010, except for one visit in 2016”, it said.
Human Rights Watch said it is an independent, international, nongovernmental organization that promotes respect for human
rights and international law, pointing out that it shared in
the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1997.
“The Israeli government is hardly the only one to disagree
with our well-researched findings, but efforts to stifle the
messenger signal that it has no appetite for serious scrutiny
of its human rights record,” Levine said. “We hope the Israeli
authorities will reverse this decision and allow both international
and domestic human rights groups to work freely.”