Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PCHR's Position on Emergency Order Restricting Civil Society in Gaza

Following the declaration of the 'state of emergency' declared by Mahmoud Abbas on June 14, on June 20 Abbas issued a decree on civil society organisations. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights based in Gaza writes about this decree:

Under first article of this decree the Palestinian Interior Minister is granted “the authority to review all permits for associations and organizations issued by the Ministry of Interior or any governmental source.” The second article gave the Minister of Interior or any person delegated by the Minister the power to “take any steps deemed necessary against associations and organizations with the intent of closure, amendment, or any other action.” The third article points that “all organizations and associations must submit new registration applications within one week; and all who violate this directive are subject to the law.”

PCHR's position is that this decree is a serious violation of the right to establish organizations, which is a basic human right guaranteed by article 26 of the Amended Basic Law for 2003, stating Palestinians’ right to “Establish unions, associations, federations, clubs, and public organizations in accordance with the law”, while they stress the importance and necessity of civil society in the current crisis, especially in the provision of humanitarian, relief, medical, and other services to the civilian population.

At a time when there is a crucial need for dialogue and cooperation among Palestinians at all levels - governmental, non-governmental, in civil society, among activists, in the media - there seems to be an earnest effort taken by the Palestinian Authority to sideline those who don't support them. This bodes very dangerous for the acting government as through actions like these they lose their legitimacy among the people and push Palestinians further apart from each other, all the while that the Occupation persists, the refugees are left without hope, and the initial goals that characterise the Palestinian struggle of a sovereign, independent state are threatened with being put off for another 59 years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gazawi Human Rights NGO's Position on Crisis in Gaza

I read the following recommendations to address the crisis in Gaza at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) website, an organisation that do very important work in Gaza and that we have had the honour of cooperating with. This organisation and their website - - are a great resource to get the truths on Gaza from within; their June 18 Press Release reads:

In light of these accelerating developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), particularly in the Gaza Strip, PCHR stresses the following:

- PCHR condemns the use of military means to resolve the conflict between Hamas and Fatah movements, particularly the decision to resolve the conflict militarily through the seizure of Palestinian security headquarters and sites in the Gaza Strip by the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades. Although PCHR is aware of the legitimacy of the government and its right to fully have its constitutional powers, and conscious of the security problems that preceded and the urgent need to reform the security establishment, there is no justification for the use of Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades in the military conflict and in the take over of the security establishment, which will only frustrate reform of the security establishment.

- Steps taken by President Mahmoud Abbas in response to these events violate the Basic Law and undermine the Basic Law in a manner that is no less dangerous than what is happening in Gaza, especially as:

A.The President has the right to declare a state of emergency and to dissolve the government in accordance with Chapter 7 of the Basic Law, but according to the Law, the dissolved government shall serve as an acting government until the formation of a new government that must be approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
B.The Basic Law does not give the President any authority, even during a state of emergency, to suspend the enforcement of any provision of the Law concerning the PLC’s authority to grant confidence to the government, and he does not have the authority to dissolve or interrupt the work of the PLC during the period of emergency (article 113). The Basic Law is superior to all laws, from which all powers, including those of the President and Prime Minister, are derived, and it must not be undermined or suspended in all circumstances.

- Steps taken by the President are likely to complicate the crisis rather than solving it. The President’s response may lead to further isolation of the Gaza Strip and throw its 1.5-million residents into the unknown by subjecting them to international sanctions. There is also concern that a de facto political situation may develop in which the Gaza Strip is cut-off from the rest of the OPT.

- In the context of such a dialogue, it is important to stress the need to reconstruct the Palestinian security establishment on professional and national foundations, to ensure its independence and not to push it into any hideous factional conflicts so that it may be able to carry out its constitutional duties to defend the homeland, serve the people, protect the society, and ensure security and public order.

- The current Palestinian crisis is a new Nakba (in reference to the dispersion of the Palestinian people in 1948) that if not immediately stopped, will only grow as expectations of more economic and social strangleholds fuel concerns over massive emmigration from the Gaza Strip.

- The international community and Arab States are invited to take immediate steps to prevent this catastrophe by pressing for political dialogue between the Hamas and Fatah movements, as well as all other political factions, and to end this crisis which threatens the PNA and the Palestinian people as a whole.