The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) Deputy Director for Programs Affairs, Hamdi Shaqqura, concluded a series of meetings with European officials in Brussels, Belgium. Those meetings came as part of an advocacy mission organized by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network’s (known as EuroMed rights)Working Group on Israel/Palestine and the Palestinians, aiming at establishing ties with the new European officials and decision makers in the European Union following the recent parliamentary elections.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 16 and 17 October 2019, 11 meetings were held with EU parliamentarians and State Members in the “Mashreq/Maghreb” Working Party, which deals with EU cooperation with countries in North Africa and the Middle East, also known as the Union for the Mediterranean.
The meetings thoroughly reviewed the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including collective punishment and the illegal and inhuman closure on the Gaza Strip and its disastrous impact on all aspects of life. Shaqqura stressed that what happens in the Gaza Strip is part of a broader plan to fragment the Palestinian territory by shredding the West Bank; isolating and Judaizing Jerusalem; construction of the annexation wall; increasing settlement activity; and creating a demographic status quo in the West Bank that would render the two-state solution, supported by Europe, impossible.
The meetings also addressed excessive use of force by the Israeli occupation forces against the protesters of the Great March of Return, which started in March 2018 along the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip and has inflected dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries, including many persons with disabilities.
Shaqqura shed light on latest smear campaign by Israel, supported by right-wing groups, against Palestinian human rights organizations and whoever dares to criticize, expose or work on the international prosecution of the Israeli war criminals.
Shaqqura stressed the significance of EU assistance to the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA and civil society. However, he emphasized that humanitarian and financial assistance should be accompanied with political action and measures to pressurize the occupying power to end its grave violations, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Shaqqura called on EU States to support the international accountability mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) especially in this stage as the ICC Prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. He also addressed the US threats directed at ICC judges if the latter tried Israelis or Americans. He stressed that these mechanisms were not established for Palestinians only but for millions of victims around the world and it is time to enforce the rule of law, respect human rights and send a clear message to the perpetrators of international crimes that they would never enjoy impunity.