STATE OF PALESTINE
On this land mark day the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reiterates its support for the Palestinian aspiration for statehood.
The admission of Palestine as a non-member observer State in the United Nations will be a major step in the Palestinian people’s struggle for the realization of their legitimate right to self-determination and statehood on their national territory. The bid for becoming a non-member State was resorted to by the Palestinian leadership following political obstruction by the U.S. which prevented Palestine to be recognized as a member State by the UN Security Council.
For decades the absence of the rule of international law has been the biggest obstacle to the achievement of the Palestinian People’s right to self-determination. Years of occupation and colonization have gone by despite numerous UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and the end to settlements, the annexation of East Jerusalem, and the closure of the Gaza Strip.Considering these facts on the ground, Palestine will remain a virtual State. However, the new status would be a step forward for Palestine, both politically and legally.
Besides independence, attaining statehood would also be a crucial step in the struggle for justice and accountability for Israeli violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, which have been committed in the occupied Palestinian territory during decades of occupation. It will provide access to the ICC and other international legal venues for the State of Palestine and its citizens.
However, in an attempt to deprive Palestinian victims of justice and maintain Israel’s position as a State above the law, several countries are exerting heavy pressure on the Palestinian leadership to refrain from accessing the ICC, in exchange for a positive vote on the statehood bid. These attempts to bar access to the ICC for the Palestinian people are a grievous example of political interests being given precedence over justice and the rule of law.
It is unacceptable to except the people of Palestine to renege on their right to access justice, merely in order to receive recognition as a non-member observer state by the UN. The right to self determination of the Palestinian people has long been recognised by the UN and the bid to become a non-member observer state is a legitimate effort to realise this right.
The people in the Gaza Strip have just been subjected to yet another Israeli military offensive which left more than 167 people dead, including 14 women and 35 children. Over a thousand were injured, of whom a shocking 97% are civilians. This last military operation, and indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that were part of it, did not come as a surprise to the people of Gaza. That the offensive could take place at all is a direct result of the perpetual impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity that has been afforded to Israel for decades. During those years, the Palestinian people have been subjected to mass displacement, dispossession, total isolation, and numerous military offensives that have been characterized by large scale and systematic attacks against civilians, civilian property, and public infrastructure.
In this context, PCHR reiterates its support for the Palestinian statehood bid and repeats its call for Palestine to be granted access to the ICC, as a final resort for achieving justice and accountability.