Ref: 19/2012


On Thursday, 16 February 2012, the Palestinian Center for Human
Rights (PCHR) received Mr. Joris Van Winckel, Political Affairs Officer, EU
Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority, in its head office in Gaza


The visitor met with Mr. Hamdi Shaqqura, Deputy Director of PCHR
for Program Affairs.  The meeting discussed
developments of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, particularly the deteriorating human rights situation in the Gaza
Strip as a result on the ongoing Israeli-imposed closure, which has impacted
all aspects of life.


Shaqqura stressed the need for action to life the closure since it
is a form of collective punishment, especially as the pretext used by Israel to
justify the closure – the case of the Israeli soldier Shalit – diminished.  There is a need to end the suffering of the
Palestinian civilian population. 


The meeting further discussed Palestinian reconciliation.  Shaqqura reviewed the atmosphere of
reconciliation and its reflections, stressing that Palestinians hope that the
political division will come to an end to political division, a national unity
government will be formed and the dignity of institutions of the Palestinian
National Authority will be restored. 
Shaqqura urged the EU to support efforts to achieve Palestinian
reconciliation and end the Palestinian division, in light of the latest Doha


In the same context, Shaqqura addressed the issue of Palestinian
elections, emphasizing that there are some obstacles to holding elections,
especially Israeli restrictions on the freedom of movement in the West Bank,
through 500 more than 500 checkpoints and barriers, and between the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank, in additions to measures taken in Jerusalem.  He stressed the need to provide appropriate
conditions to ensure holding free and fair elections that will reflect the will
of the Palestinian electorate. 


At another level, PCHR received a delegation from the
Representative Office of South Africa to the Palestinian Authority comprised
of:  Mr. Phadime Choshane, First
Secretary; and Mr. Musa Mthemby, Second Secretary. 


The visitors met with Mr. Haber Wishah, Director of PCHR’s Branch
Offices, who briefed them on the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip,
particularly the impacts of the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, which
violates Palestinian economic and social rights. 


The meeting further addressed PCHR’s work, including monitoring and
documentation of human rights violations, and serious efforts to defend the
rights of victims.  It also discussed
efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation, and Wishah highlighted the
obstacles facing such efforts, and recalled the inspiring South African
experience in national reconciliation and how victims of apartheid were


The visitors expressed their willing to contribute to any efforts
that may lead to achieving the Palestinian reconciliation. 


It should be noted that the visit of the South African delegation
precedes the scheduled visit of the Representative of South Africa to PCHR on
22 February 2012.