Palestinian Leaders Call for Ban on Feminism

December 23, 2019

3 min read

At a general meeting on Saturday, Palestinian leaders rejected an agreement to end discrimination against women they had signed in 2014.

The Palestinian Watan news agency reported that at the meeting in Hebron, tribal leaders called for the rejection of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly and signed by the Palestinian Authority in 2014. Parties to CEDAW are required to repeal laws that discriminate against women and protect women from discrimination and violence, enshrining the full equality of women and men before the law.

The Palestinian leaders at the meeting also called for a general bam against feminist organizations.

“The Palestinian Authority must withdraw and cancel this agreement and call for the closure of all the feminist institutions and those supporting them in Palestine. There are hundreds of them in Palestine and we call for the cancellation of their rental agreements.

“Anyone who rents [premises] to them is a partner in [their] crimes,” the statement continued.

They also called for feminist groups to be denied access to schools and told judges not to apply a recently passed PA law raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both genders.

They also warned the media against covering activities of feminist organizations and to “support the Palestinian people and tribes instead”.

Mahmoud Habash, an advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on religious affairs said on Saturday, “In the State of Palestine, even though we’ve signed the CEDAW treaty, we reject anything not in accord with our religion, heritage, and values.”

A report by NGO Monitor less than one year after the PA signed the CEDAW agreement indicated that the Palestinians had no intention to fulfill their stated obligations. 

“Personal status laws discriminate against women in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance,” the report read. “Repressive cultural practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, polygamy, and “honor” crimes are endemic. Coupled with unsatisfactory educational and employment opportunities, the laws and customs create an environment where there is both entrenched de jure and de facto discrimination. In addition to legal and cultural discrimination, the PA exploits women and girls to carry out and incite acts of terrorism against civilians.”

The watchdog organization discovered that many of the resources designated to improve the condition of women were being used to demonize Israel.

One such organization that receives funding for CEDAW related reports is MIFTAH,  an anti-Israel propaganda group founded by Haneen Ashrawi. The MIFTA report for CEDAW blamed the “occupation” (i.e. Israel) for the poor state of women’s rights in the PA. A junket organized by Congressman Rashida Tlaib in conjunction with Tlaib intended to introduce congressman to Israel was canceled in August. MIFTAH has used previous tours to introduce U.S. politicians to representatives of terrorist organizations. MIFTAH has been accused of publishing anti-Semitic material including articles that perpetuated the blood-libel myth.

Until 2014, a clause in the Jordanian penal was in effect in the Palestinian legal code which exempted men from punishment for killing a female relative if she has brought dishonor to the family. According to UNICEF estimates in 1999, two-thirds of all murders in the Palestinian territories were likely honor killings. Despite the law, honor killings (more accurately referred to as femicides) are still prevalent in Palestinian society. 

Upon being granted non-member observer status in the United Nations in 2012, President Mahmoud Abbas ratified 15 international human rights treaties including CEDAW. According to a report by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), all international human rights treaties signed by the PA, including CEDAW, are presented as non-obligatory “due to the non-existence of a legal framework that would regulate the merger of these treaties in the national legal system.” 

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