On Thursday, the new head of Human Rights Watch criticized Israel’s government for alleged human rights abuses and called on the United States and other allies to hold it accountable. HRW Executive Director Tirana Hassan expressed concern over a planned overhaul of the judiciary by Israel’s religious-nationalist government, which she described as a potential “disaster” for human rights.
Hassan urged the US government to follow through on its recent reproach of Israel’s government, stating that the current Israeli government is “on a rampage against human rights domestically against its own people.” She called on the Biden administration to use its influence to prevent Israel from moving further away from human rights compliance.
The Israeli government’s plan to enable parliament to override Supreme Court decisions and control judicial appointments has led to large street protests, with critics calling the move a threat to democracy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters have argued that the plan would ensure a proper balance between the elected government and the judiciary and would not endanger individual and minority rights.
Hassan also highlighted Human Rights Watch’s 2021 report, which labeled Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the decades-long occupation of the West Bank as “apartheid.” However, some pro-Israel groups have accused HRW and other rights groups of showing bias against Israel in their reporting.
Separately, U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories Francesca Albanese expressed concern over the situation in the occupied territories, stating that she has seen an increase in “humiliation and indignities” imposed on Palestinians, with a “strengthening of the suffocating architecture.”