50 Years of Occupation: Shrinking Space for Civil Society in Israel and Palestine
Fifty years after the start of the occupation, the space for civil society in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is shrinking fast, according to Right Livelihood Award Laureate Ran Goldstein from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel.
Speaking at a seminar in the Swedish Parliament library yesterday, Goldstein voiced his concern about the growing pressures faced by activists on both sides in upholding basic human rights – from access to healthcare to freedom of expression. He was joined by Palestinian human rights defender Mahmoud Abu Rahma from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
The seminar took place against the backdrop of Israeli Prime Minister’s refusal to meet with German Foreign Minister over the latter’s meeting with anti-occupation groups on his visit to Israel.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is not hesitating to use any tool in the box against human rights organisations. When he is out of arguments, his tactic is to silence us. But we will continue to speak out against human rights violations, and the only way to improve the situation is to end the occupation,” said Goldstein.
“There are different opinions about the situation in Israel. Netanyahu represents one view, but we have another view and in a democracy everyone should have freedom of expression and freedom of opinion. It is important for the world to know what’s really happening,” he added.
The seminar was organised by the Association for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament (SÄRLA), together with Riksdagsbiblioteket, Diakonia and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.