The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) is deeply troubled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency “cash for work” proposal intended for the 46 targeted Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem area as it fails to adhere to the Directive on Legal Aid for Palestinian Communities Facing Forcible Transfer (“Directive on Legal Aid”) issued by the State of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization in October of 2016.
These communities are under threat of forcible transfer, and while PHROC supports international assistance to these communities, it stresses that any such assistance must be in line with the Directive on Legal Aid. The Directive on Legal Aid serves as the official Palestinian position with regard to legal aid and/or assistance and is designed to protect the rights of the occupied Palestinian population under international law.
Per the Directive on Legal Aid, PHROC reminds the United Nations agencies involved, and the international community more broadly, that such legal aid proposals may carry serious implications under international law.
The communities have made their position clear: they reject any plan aimed at transferring them from the lands they currently inhabit, including the coercive environment created by Israel to facilitate such transfer, and will only accept relocation to the lands they were originally displaced from in al-Naqab Desert. While the communities have asked external actors to intervene, PHROC stresses that any agreement reached on behalf of these communities by third parties (lawyers, legal/international organizations or otherwise) with the Israeli authorities, that is not based on the “free and informed consent” of these communities pursuant to relevant international laws, and the approval of the State of Palestine, is considered the facilitation of forcible transfer. It must be noted that the coercive environment created by Israel leading to forcible transfer severely undermines any “free and informed consent.”
Forcible transfer is illegal under international law. It is a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and considered a grave breach under Article 147 of the Convention, and constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
PHROC is also disappointed that the “cash for work” proposal was not discussed with the relevant Palestinian governmental bodies, namely the Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission, which is the official body charged with supervising, coordinating and approving any matters relating to aid for the targeted Bedouin communities. This requirement was made clear to members of the international community during the town hall meeting held following the publication of the Directive for Legal Aid.
Accordingly, PHROC calls upon all United Nations agencies and other international organizations to abide by the Directive on Legal Aid for Palestinian Communities Facing Forcible Transfer, and warns that a failure to do so may result in serious violations of international law.
 Principle 7(c), United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacements, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, A/RES/60/1.