Israeli Lawyer: P.A. Greatest Human Rights Abuser

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- For years, Palestinians have screamed they are victims of human rights abuses at the hands of Israel.

Now, an Israeli attorney is challenging that claim and taking his fight to Congress and the European Union. Millions in aid to the Palestinian Authority could be at stake.

In the struggle for peace in the Middle East, much attention has been focused on claims of Israel's alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians. Now in a new report, Israeli attorney Caleb Myers blames the other side.

"The greatest abusers of Palestinian human rights [are] not the Israeli government or the soldiers at the checkpoints or the Israeli settlers in the disputed territories. But it's the Palestinian Authority itself," Myers told CBN News.

Bassam Eid is rare among his own people because he monitors the abuses of Palestinian leaders. Eid, who heads the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, told CBN News the situation is "disturbing."

"I don't think the human rights issue right now is in the top of the agenda of the international community," he said.

Eid said the culprits are those in leadership: Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip randomly arrest and torture each other's members.

"It looks like the violations of human rights became as a kind of competition today between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Eid said.

Myers said journalists have also been arrested for speaking out, women have been murdered in so-called honor killings, and Christians are persecuted for their faith.

Secret is Funding

He believes the secret to stopping this is money. Washington has committed more than $4 billion to the Palestinians since the mid-1990s, including $200 million each year for the last five years.

Since 2007, Europe has poured hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the Palestinians. The E.U. was Myers first stop to help end these human rights abuses.

"We're asking the European community -- please uphold the standards of human rights that you set for yourselves. And please make further significant aid to the Palestinian Authority contingent on real human rights reforms," Myers said.

An E.U. representative could not comment directly on the report but told CBN News, "The E.U. and its member states follow up on all issues related to human rights and fundamental freedoms with regard to the Palestinian Authority."

But Eid doesn't think that's the E.U.'s top priority.

"The Europeans understand much more the financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Eid said if the Palestinian salaries aren't paid, it will cause internal fighting. So the Europeans just want to keep things calm.

"The Europeans are focusing much more on how to secure the salaries at the end of each month than to focus on any other issues like the human rights violations committed by the Palestinians," he said.

Congress Next

The next stop for Myers is the U.S. Congress. It's not clear how congressmen will respond to Myers' report, but last year some lawmakers tried to delay funding to the Palestinians because of their unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations.

Myers admits part of his goal in highlighting the issue is to take the pressure off Israel. But he said there's more to it than that.

"The story needs to get out in order to help the Palestinian people," Myers said. "They live under this cloud of fear."

He said the Palestinians will be the big winner if human rights abuses stop.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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