Today, 1 June 2022, the Israeli authorities prevented Ubai Al-Aboudi, the Executive Director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, from traveling to Amman, Jordan to attend a two-day expert meeting with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. He was due to discuss Israel’s policy and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and their economic implications. Mr. Al-Aboudi was invited to participate in his official capacity as Executive Director of Bisan, a civil society organization that works to support the socio-economic rights of Palestinians through the production and application of critical development knowledge and the building of partnerships with progressive bodies and entities.
The travel ban comes in the aftermath of Israel’s designation of Bisan as a “terrorist organization” and “unlawful association” in October 2021, based on classified intelligence information, along with the following five other human rights and civil society organizations: Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
Ubai Al-Aboudi arrived this morning at the Allenby Bridge crossing, the only crossing from the West Bank to Jordan open to Palestinians, and was informed that he is not permitted to exit the West Bank. This is the second time that Mr. Al-Aboudi has been banned from exiting the occupied West Bank. On 29 April 2022, Israeli authorities prevented him from traveling abroad to attend a conference of civil society groups (the World Social Forum) in Mexico. Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer, was also denied permission to travel from Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport to attend the same conference.
In response, on 24 May 2022, before Israel barred Mr. Al-Aboudi from exiting the West Bank for the second time, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to the relevant Israeli authorities seeking to ascertain whether a travel ban had been placed on Mr. Al-Aboudi. Although Israeli law prescribes that a response to such queries is to be provided within four days, Adalah has not received a response to date and several inquiries have been ignored.
Adalah and the Bisan center commented:
“Today, Ubai Al-Aboudi was prevented from participating in a UN meeting concerning the destructive effects of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy. This cannot be interpreted as anything other than a politically-motivated attack on Palestinian activists and human rights defenders who dare to speak out against Israel’s regime of occupation, domination, and oppression with clear apartheid characteristics. This is a direct continuation of the designations of six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups, including the Bisan center, as “terrorist organizations”. Preventing Palestinian activists and human rights defenders from traveling is a clear attempt to obstruct and ultimately put an end to the work of Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders, who are documenting Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians and trying to hold Israel accountable internationally.”