Israeli Attorney Addresses Palestinian Rights Abuses

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli attorney Calev Myers hand delivered a report to the European Parliament in Brussels Thursday detailing the human rights record of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas governments.

The 35-page report provides meticulously researched documentation of human rights abuses in Palestinian-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip.

In a special session sponsored by the European Coalition for Israel, Myers, chief counsel for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, explained why the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and its Hamas counterpart must be held accountable for human rights violations of its citizens.

While the P.A. claims an independent state will resolve all the issues facing its population, a closer look reveals that its government is responsible for the suffering taking place among its people.

Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that rules Gaza, also blames Israel for its problems. But the report documents the same abuses occurring in the West Bank take place in Gaza too.

"Arbitrary detention, cruel punishment, torture, lack of due process, violation of freedom of expression, opinion and the press, violation of freedom of science and art, violation of freedom of religion and minority rights, not to mention violation of the rights of women and children reflect conflicts between the principles of the customary international law and the principles of the Muslim religion and traditional Arab culture, indicating the poor development of the democratic infrastructure," the report concludes.

Myers also addressed the issue of Palestinian refugees and their descendants living in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, saying they should "not be treated as second-class citizens, but be fully integrated into their societies and given the same rights as other citizens."

Before presenting the report to seminar host MEP Hannu Takkula, who plans to distribute it to other members of parliament, Myers urged lawmakers to reconsider funding the Palestinian Authority and Hamas until the fundamental issues of human rights are addressed.

The international community and human rights organizations together, he said, must demand accountability from the P.A. and Hamas for the treatment of its citizens and violations of human rights.

ECI director Tomas Sandell said these reforms would aid, not hinder, the peace process. There can be no two-state solution without the basic component of democracy in place, namely respect for fundamental human freedom, he said.

And these issues must be addressed before, not after, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Both must be predicated upon genuine human rights reforms.

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