Ref: 03/2009

Date: 03 May 2009


PCHR Director Raji Sourani Participates in a European Parliament Workshop in Brussels Speaking about the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Upon an invitation from Luisa Morgantini, the head of the Palestine Committee in the European Parliament, Raji Sourani, the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), participated in a workshop which was organized by the European parliamentary delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council on 29 April 2009.

The workshop addressed the theme of how to “break the vicious circle” when it comes to the settlement of the Palestinian issue. Speakers included members of the European Union: Véronique de Keyser (PSE, Belgium), Annemie Neyts (ALDE, Belgium) and Richard Howitt (PES, UK), as well as guest speakers, including UNRWA Director of Operations John Ging, Former French Ambassador Yves Aubin de la Messuzière, Leoindas Tezapsidis of the European Commission, and Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR.  

Sourani’s intervention focused on two main issues: the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and the international fact-finding mission of the League of Arab states, which visited Gaza from 22 to 27 February 2009 to investigate Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip. PCHR prepared the agenda for the mission’s visit and provided it with full technical and logistic support.

Regarding the first aspect, Sourani addressed the disastrous effects and consequences of the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. He explained that the miserable situation in Gaza has not changed despite the Israeli ceasefire, international pledges and the Sharm El-Sheikh Conference. The Israeli imposed closure – which violates, inter alia, the economical and social rights of the Palestinians – is still in place. Sourani highlighted human rights violations against the population of Gaza Strip, along with other violations perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank. He referred to policies practiced by Israel, including the establishment of a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, ethnic cleansing, the continued construction of the annexation wall, settlement expansion, the establishment of bypass roads, restrictions on the movement of civilians through hundreds of checkpoints, incursions, assassinations, detention, torture, house demolitions, and so on.

Regarding the second aspect, Sourani referred to the fact-finding mission established by the League of Arab States. The mission, which included a number of international experts, was mandated to investigate Israeli war crimes during the latest offensive on Gaza. He also talked about the mission’s work programme, field visits, and meetings with victims of Israeli human rights violations and war crimes highlighting the role played by PCHR. PCHR were involved in

nominating the mission’s members, preparing the visit’s program, coordinating its fields visits, and providing necessary logistical support.

During the workshop, the speakers agreed on the key role of the European Union, asserting that Israel is currently far from fulfilling its obligations and responsibilities, and stressing the importance of upholding international law with respect to recent event.