'Alternative Nobel' winner decries 'bleak' rights situation in Palestine

An award-winning Palestinian human rights advocate believes human rights conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza will become worse before they get better.

'Alternative Nobel' winner decries 'bleak' rights situation in Palestine

World Bulletin/News Desk

An award-winning Palestinian human rights advocate has drawn a grim picture of human rights conditions in the Palestinian territories, saying the situation is expected to worsen in future as a result of the international impunity afforded to Israel to commit what he described as "the most dastardly" crimes against the Palestinians.

"Ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, apartheid in the West Bank and the seven-year-old blockade of Gaza confirm that these are the worst and most bloody years for Palestinians since the Nakba ('catastrophe') in 1948," Ragi al-Sourani, head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, told Anadolu Agency.

Last month, al-Sourani was declared winner of the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize."

The award was established in 1980 to honor those who have contributed to meeting humanity's most pressing challenges. Presented annually at a ceremony in the Swedish parliament, the Right Livelihood Award is usually shared among four recipients.

Al-Sourani was the first Palestinian to win the prize, which he received in recognition of his efforts to defend human rights and the rule of law in the Palestinian territories.

He described the ongoing political conflict between main Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah as "political suicide," blaming Palestinian leaders for the schism currently plaguing the Palestinian nation.

"The more division persists, the weaker the Palestinian position will be," al-Sourani told AA. "This weakness will prevent the Palestinians from taking any meaningful step towards determining their own destiny or resisting the Israeli occupation."

More bleak

He believes human rights conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza will become worse before they get better.

Before Israel's 2008/2009 "Cast Lead" assault on the Gaza Strip, he said, nobody could have imagined that Israel would use fighter jets, rockets and white phosphorus to attack the densely-populated territory -- already reeling under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade -- while the international community looked on.

"Israel has committed more atrocities in the West Bank and Jerusalem in the past few years than it has since first occupying these places in 1967," al-Sourani said.

He pointed out that Israel had forcibly evicted numerous Palestinian families from their ancestral homes, confiscated their land and widened the scope of its occupation of the Palestinian territories on an unprecedented scale.

Al-Sourani went on to note that the international community had utterly failed to condemn Israel's actions, providing the self-proclaimed Jewish state with political cover and encouraging it to continue victimizing Palestinians and seizing their land.  

Palestinian rights activists, he said, had taken the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a new direction when they decided to take legal action against what they described as "Israeli war criminals". 

Al-Sourani pointed out that his center was credited with standing up to the Israeli occupation and comprehensively documenting the perennial conflict.

"The Palestinians have a good chance to put Israel on the spot, especially after the UN gave Palestine non-member state status," al-Sourani said.

He called on Palestinian leaders to apply for membership in the Rome Statute, which would allow them to initiate legal proceedings against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court.

He also praised Palestinian human rights centers for the important role they played in alleviating the suffering of the besieged Gaza Strip's roughly 1.7 million inhabitants.

These centers, he said, had contacted their international counterparts and presented them with the facts about the Gazan people's suffering as a result of the seven-year-old blockade.

Efforts exerted by Palestinian human rights groups in this regard have prompted international rights groups to denounce the ongoing Israeli siege.

According to al-Sourani, some of these groups had even sent ships loaded with humanitarian aid in hopes of breaking the siege on the coastal enclave.

"The lack of international political will is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of lifting the Israeli blockade," he said.

"Indeed, the blockade is imposed by Israel, but it is sanctioned by the international Quartet on the Middle East," al-Sourani added, referring to the four-entity bloc tasked with resolving the conflict that includes the US, EU, Russia and the UN.

He called for the utilization of international and human rights law to defend Palestinian rights, asserting that the addition of a legal dimension to the Palestinian struggle would give Palestinian negotiators more leverage in peace talks.

Al-Sourani went on to say that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was first and foremost a legal conflict, adding that the legal aspect must be made an essential component of the ongoing resistance to illegal occupation by Israel.

"The people I have worked to defend over the past 37 years deserve this award even more than I do," al-Sournai said after being awarded the 'Alternative Nobel Prize.'

"They're the victims of continued Israeli aggression and abuse," he added.


Last Mod: 26 Ekim 2013, 10:59
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