Ref: 61/2006

Date:  07 December 2006    

Sourani Lectures at University of London on the Catastrophic Situation in the OPT

Professor Lynn Welshman, Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, facilitated a meeting to discuss the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, and Mr. Ouin Murray, Head of the OPT Department at Trocaire- Ireland, talked in the meeting.

In his intervention, Mr. Sourani focused on three levels. At the first level, Mr. Sourani talked about the Palestinian democracy reflected in holding presidential, local and parliamentary elections in one year, and how the Palestinian people have these distinguished democratic potentials, criticizing the European positions towards the results of these elections. At the second level, Mr. Souani briefed the attendants on crimes committed by Israeli Occupation Forces against Palestinian civilians in the OPT, emphasizing that the human rights situation has deteriorated since June 2006, marking the worst and bloodiest period since the beginning of the Israeli occupation. At the third level, Mr. Sourani called upon the international community to intervene to stop such crimes, and called upon the western countries to end the conspiracy of silence. He further called upon the Swiss Government to call for a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to provide protection to the Palestinian people in the OPT, emphasizing that it is a legal obligation on the High Contracting Parties under article 1 of the Convention.

Mr. Ouin Murray talked about his experience and what he witnessed on the ground in the OPT. He particularly talked about the Beit Hanoun massacre and the unprecedented economic and social siege imposed on the Palestinian people.

At another level, Mr. Sourani held meetings with attorneys Daniel McCover and Kate Minard of Hickman & Rose Solicitors and discussed with them developments related to the prosecution of Israeli war criminals who have committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the OPT. He also discussed with them the case of Moshe Ya’lon, the former chief of staff of the Israeli military, as attorneys from New Zealand were able to obtain an arrest warrant against him on 27 November 2006, but the Attorney-General of New Zealand prevented the police from implementing it apparently for political considerations. He discussed with them the possibility of taking legal action against the Attorney-General of New Zealand.

It is worth noting that PCHR has made efforts in cooperation with several human rights organizations and lawyers in Europe and America to prosecute Israeli war criminals. The case of Moshe Ya’lon has been the latest of these cases.