PALESTINIAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Date: 27 January 2003
A Seminar held at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre in Brazil, attended by Raji Sourani
Palestinian resistance to the Israeli military occupation is a legitimate right
Israel embodies state terrorism
The Palestinian people will never forget or forgive crimes committed throughout the Israeli military occupation
The international community, especially the United States and European governments, holds some responsibility for the escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR delivered a lecture at a seminar at the World Social Forum, which was attended by 15,000 members of the forum. Professor Dennis Brutos, an activist and academic from South Africa, and Dr. Sahrif Hatata, from Egypt also participated in the seminar. Mr. Sourani asserted that fundamentalism is not as determined and defined by the US and the west; and is neither limited nor linked solely with Arabs and Muslims. This simplistic view is an outcome of the limited available information circulated throughout the world. He further pointed out that restricting fundamentalism to Arab and Muslims, as the US and the west continues to do, distorts reality. Mr. Sourani asserted that the evident expressions of fundamentalism, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, are an outcome of the suffering of the Palestinian people and the practices of Israeli occupying forces against them.
Some points to consider were highlighted:-
· If the state of Israel in ideology, origin and practice, as the only state established on the idea of “God’s promise to a selected people”, is not fundamentalist, then what is the meaning of fundamentalism?
· How can a state that determines the right to citizenship on the basis of Judaism not be a fundamentalist state?
· How can a state that has these characteristics be considered to be liberal, as claimed by Israel?
Mr. Sourani asserted that the Palestinian people refuse to be subjected to an economic and social stranglehold, supposedly in the name of peace, which only results in a system of apartheid, and will never be willing to accept any ‘peace’ proposal that makes this a legal and-political reality.
Also highlighted were the violations of Palestinian human rights, continuously perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces, since the beginning of the current Palestinian Intifada. These grave breaches, committed by the Israeli military, including willful killings, assassinations, wide-scale arrests, bombardment of civilians and civilian facilities by Apache gun-ships and F-16 fighter jets, the internal and external siege and curfews imposed on Palestinian communities, land confiscation and leveling, the destruction of houses and property and forcible exile, have systematically continued.
Mr. Sourani held the international community, particularly the US and Europe, materially responsible for the unprecedented military escalation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, asserting that the US political and legal protection and the silence of European governments have encouraged Israel to commit illegal actions against the Palestinian people.
Israeli state terrorism against Palestinian civilians was condemned and the Palestinian legitimate right to resist the occupation was asserted. There are many differences between terrorism and the resistance to occupation, and these are clearly defined within international law and humanitarian law.
Mr. Sourani explained the Israeli selectivity and duality of international law and refuted the US claim to be interested in the implementation of resolutions of international legitimacy. He made a comparison between the US position towards Israel and its position towards Iraq concerning the implementation of resolutions of the UN Security Council and their international legitimacy.
Mr. Sourani asserted that the rule of law cannot continue to be defeated as this creates an suitable atmosphere for the development of extremist national and religious fundamentalism. He warned of the politicization of international law and humanitarian law, which the US and the west appear to do, and firmly disagreed with the maintenance that the Palestinian people, who are under occupation, are all terrorists, due
Certain questions were put forward forr discussion, including:-
· Who supports and believes in the maintenance of the Israeli belligerent occupation of the Palestinian Territories?
· Is anyone of you against the international law and humanitarian law?
· Is anyone of you against the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation?
· Is anyone of you against the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence?
· Does anyone of you support Israel’s apartheid and crimes against the Palestinian people?
In his lecture, Mr. Sourani defended Palestinian religious parties, asserting that they are part of the Palestinian national liberation movement and that their resistance to the occupation is legitimate and cannot be simply described as fundamentalist. He added that the Palestinian people, like all people around the world, have political and intellectual pluralism as a legitimate right; and that this does not need to be suppressed.
Mr. Sourani emphasized that the Palestinian people should be supported by the international community during the military occupation. The worse may be yet to come, and that the results of the occupation are becoming more severe and so the outlook is not particularly bright. He also stated that the Palestinian people appreciate the support that they do receive and thank the international civil society, solidarity movement and friends of Palestinian, indicating that the Palestinian people are encouraged by this and feel that their suffering, due to the lack of legitimate national, political and human rights has not gone completely unnoticed.
Mr. Sourani’s speech was welcomed by those attending the seminar and participation was vocal. Many of those present offered their support through words of encouragement, which rejected the Israeli military occupation and supported the Palestinian people who suffer as a consequence of it.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 7 2824776 – 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. Web:http://www.pchrgaza.org