On 25 May 2010, Adalah briefed a joint delegation of 15 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) at a meeting held in East Jerusalem. Adalah's representative to the meeting, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher, discussed the recent attacks against human rights organizations in Israel and the recent deterioration in the human rights situation in general.
Attorney Zaher discussed some of the reasons for the attacks, and explained why Adalah has been a main target, as one of the leading human rights organizations working on issues relating to the rights of the Arab minority in Israel. She stressed that the attacks cannot be disconnected from the overall human rights situation in the country, including a slew of new discriminatory laws and bills that primarily target Arab citizens of Israel and constitute attempts by right-wing political parties, including the extreme right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to remove their discriminatory actions and policies from the purview of the law, In this regard she discussed the example, from the field of political participation, of an amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset that denies the right to stand in the Knesset elections to anyone who has visited Arab and/or Muslim states defined as “enemy states”—such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran without prior permission from the state.
Attorney Zaher also spoke about the political indictments filed against Arab MK Barakeh for his actions during demonstrations against the Separation Wall and the War on Lebanon, and the lifting of the immunity for the purposes of indicting fellow Arab MK Said Naffaa for travelling with a delegation of Druze religious leaders to Druze holy sites in Syria. She provided an update about the detention and indictment of Ameer Makhoul, the general director of Arab NGO network, Ittijah, informing the delegation about serious suspicions of the use of illegal methods of interrogation used against him during his interrogation by the General Security Services (GSS) that amount to torture and ill-treatment.
In relation to socio-economic and land rights, she provided details of Israel's unequal treatment of Arab citizens, including discrimination in budget allocations and attempts to displace and dispossess the Arab Bedouin living in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab.
The joint delegation of MEPs from the foreign affairs, development and budgets committees, together with the chairs of the Working Group on the Middle East and of the Inter-parliamentary Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council, traveled to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) this week and held meetings with Israeli and Palestinian politicians, parliamentarians and NGOs and field visits.
The mission is focusing on the humanitarian situation, the peace process and the use of EU funds in the OPT. It includes a series of high-level meetings with Israeli and Palestinian politicians, parliamentarians and NGOs and a number of field visits.
According to media reports, the Israeli authorities tried to cancel the NGO meeting, accusing local NGOs of bias, or to include the right-wing “NGO Monitor” on its agenda.
Adalah participated in the NGO meeting, together with representatives from Al Haq, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and B'Tselem. The director of the New Israel Fund also addressed the delegation, focusing on the virulent attacks being waged against it by right-wing groups for its funding of human rights organizations in Israel. She also spoke about proposed laws that aim to severely restrict the activities of human rights organizations in Israel, including a ban on foreign government funding to NGOs and attempts to ban groups that engage in international litigation against Israeli officials and army chiefs on behalf of victims of war crimes. The Peres Center for Peace, together with bereaved families' organizations, also took part in the session.
Israel refused to grant the MEPs access to Gaza. The MEPs protested against this decision and part of the delegation traveled to Egypt to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing.
List of participating MEPs:
Committee on Foreign Affairs (5 MEPs)
Véronique DE KEYSER (S&D, BE) (only Gaza)
Wolfgang KREISSL-DÖRFLER (S&D, DE)
Pier Antonio PANZERI (S&D, IT)
Marielle DE SARNEZ (ALDE, FR)
Nicole KIIL-NIELSEN (Greens/EFA, FR)
Committee on Development (4)
Eva JOLY, (Greens/EFA, FR), chair
Michèle STRIFFLER (EPP, FR)
Corina CRETU (S&D, RO)
Ivo VAJGL (ALDE, SL)
Committee on Budgets (4)
Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR), chair
Göran FÄRM (S&D, SV)
Ivailo KALFIN (S&D, BG)
Lajos BOKROS (ECR, HU)
Delegation for the relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council (1)
Proinsias DE ROSSA (S&D, IE), chair
Working Group on the Middle East (1)
Hans–Gert PÖTTERING (EPP, DE), chair of EP Working Group on the Middle East