France awards Israeli B'Tselem and Palestinian al-Haq top human rights prize
B'Tselem and Al-Haq
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Palestinian al-Haq will receive the French Republic's 2018 Human Rights Prize along with four other laureates.
On December 10th, the laureates will be awarded the prize in Paris by the French Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet and the President of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, Christine Lazerges.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place on International Human Rights Day, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
This year's prize was awarded to individuals or renowned organizations for their “defense and the promotion of human rights, particularly those that are harassed or persecuted for these reasons.”
B'Tselem is frequently the target of condemnation by Israel’s government and some citizens who view the organization as hostile to the Jewish state.
Al Haq and B’Tselem both issued statements on Wednesday emphasizing the partnership and shared values between the two groups.
“It is a great honor for Al-Haq to receive this prestigious award jointly with our colleagues at B’Tselem, who are our partners in the struggle for justice and a better future free from oppression and occupation.” General Director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin said. “Together, we are working to end the culture of impunity so that Palestinians can enjoy the full realization of their human rights.”
"We, at B’Tselem and Al-Haq, share the same values and the same realization: that only by ending the occupation can there be a future based on human rights, equality and liberty,” B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said.“It is a particularly special honor to receive this award – together with our colleagues from Al-Haq – on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” Human Rights Prize of the French Republic has been awarded annually by the French Prime Minister since 1988.
The prize is awarded “in recognition and support for the completion of individual or collective projects carried out in the field, in France or abroad, regardless of nationality or borders, working to promote and protect human rights.”
Both B'Tselem and al-Haq call for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
The Israeli government most recently took a public stance against B'Tselem after the United Nations invited the human rights group to address the UN Security Council in October. Israel’s ambassador to the UN called the invitation “shameful.”
B'Tselem's Executive Director Hagai El-Ad spoke to the UN Security Council in a speech critical of various Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians and urged the international community that the time had come for action on the Palestinian situation.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted harshly to the NGO head’s speech.
“Mr. El-Ad, you are a citizen of the State of Israel who serves our enemies. They use you against us. The IDF soldiers are guarding you and you are coming here to defame them,” Danon exclaimed in Hebrew during the Security Council session. “Shame on you, collaborator!”
“While our soldiers are preparing to defend Israel's security, the Director-General of B’Tselem chooses to make a speech full of lies at the UN in an attempt to help Israel’s enemies,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The conduct of B’Tselem is a disgrace that will be remembered as a brief and fleeting episode in the history of our people.”
B'Tselem campaigns against Israel's military control over the Palestinian territories and uses Palestinian photographers and videographers to document the conduct of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.
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