On Thursday morning, 11 January 2018, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) received the Deputy Prime Minister; Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney; and the accompanying delegation from the Ministry and Irish Consulate General in Jerusalem. The visiting delegation was received by Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director; Iyad Alami, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Legal Affairs; and Mona Shawa, Head of PCHR’s Women’s Unit. The meeting was also attended by the Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Gaza, Neil Tobin.
Sourani thanked the Minister and the accompanying delegation for this meaningful visit. He also expresses the appreciation of PCHR, human rights and civil society organizations in Palestine for this generous gesture, which comes in support of the Palestinian civil society, specifically the human rights organizations that defend the historic injustice to the Palestinian people.
Moreover, Sourani expressed his appreciation for the human and moral positions of the Irish Government in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle to end the Israeli occupation and their inalienable rights. Sourani praised the Irish Government’s position from the US President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and its principled position from respecting international law and international humanitarian law. He added that the Irish Government’s positions have always been consistent with the law. Sourani also pointed out that the Palestinian people were inspired by the struggle of the Irish people against the occupation.
During the meeting, Sourani stressed the importance of the role played by the Irish government in encouraging other countries, especially in the European Union (EU), to end the Israeli serious violations and the military occupation, and enable the Palestinian people to practice their right to self-determination.
Sourani clarified for the visiting delegation the work of the Palestinian human rights organizations before the International Criminal Court, in light of the failure of the Israeli courts to prosecute Israeli war criminals, who committed crimes against Palestinian civilians. He also explained the PCHR’s ongoing efforts to promote human rights and rule of law in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas.
Sourani reviewed the catastrophic consequences of the illegal and inhuman closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for 11 years and called for not acknowledging it as a de facto but continuing to fight for completely ending it and its catastrophic consequences.
Sourani expressed his deep concern that there are no prospects for the end of the Palestinian division. He added that this is unwarranted and incomprehensible and gives Israel further excuses to deny the Palestinian people’s rights, emphasizing that the ongoing division would significantly attenuate our fight with the Israeli occupation.
Sourani stressed that the difficult humanitarian conditions in Gaza will not drive the free people of the world to despair and surrendering. He added that those peoples under occupation shall not be good victims. He also pointed out that the Palestinian people are meant to recruit the international law and international human rights law in defending their cause, and they always win this battle that shows their moral, legal and human superiority over the occupation.
The visiting Minister professed his shock at the catastrophic economic and humanitarian conditions comparing with what he saw in his first visit to the Gaza Strip 15 years ago. He also said that he is fully convinced that the situation in the Gaza strip will not get better without completely ending the closure. He added that continuing to have such a situation in the Gaza Strip is an unhealthy atmosphere that would lead to dangerous consequences, emphasizing that Gaza is not in need for a forth war. The Minister stressed that the Irish Government is still willing to support the civil and governmental society individually and in the same time in cooperation with their partners in the European Union.
The Head of OHCHR in Gaza addressed the dramatic conditions in the Gaza Strip and praised the great cooperation between PCHR and civil society organizations and the OHCHR. He emphasized that there is a serious attempt to stigmatize the prestige and credibility of these organizations. He also praised the credibility, independence, and professionalism of these Palestinian organizations and is honored to work and support them.
At the end of the meeting, Sourani delivered PCHR’s honor emblem to the Irish Minister.