On Tuesday 17th May 2016 Bassem Eid, Founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, gave his views on The Palestinian Authority and human rights at The Henry Jackson Society.
On the 17th May, Bassem Eid gave a talk discussing the continued – and largely underreported – programme of human rights abuses endured by the people of Palestine. The event was chaired by Tom Wilson of the Henry Jackson Society, and was held in Millbank Tower. The talk comes as the Henry Jackson Society launches a new report, by Mr Eid, which details the human rights abuses and assaults on civil liberties being committed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Mr Eid commenced his talk by laying out a timeline recording the plight of human rights in Palestine: the passing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, and his doubts about the future of human rights under the Palestinian leadership at that time; then, Yasser Arafat’s entrance into Gaza in 1994; and later, his detention by the authorities in January 1996, which required a timely intervention by then US Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
According to Mr Eid, his arrest caused something of an earthquake in media reporting. And, following his incarceration, in act which he described as ‘suicide’, he set up the Palestinian Human Rights Group to bring such violations to the world’s attention, which has led him to where he is today.
A key theme of the talk was the perceived disconnect between human rights monitoring in Israel and Palestine, what he referred to as a ‘double standard’. For instance, he noted how the European Union budget was heavily weighted towards human rights monitoring in Israel, rather than Palestine. He argued that journalists and the media as a whole, have equally failed in their responsibilities to report the abuses to a global audience.
It is this indifference, which has allowed the current leader, President Abbas, to sit comfortably and be widely heralded as a democratic political figure. Mr Eid was openly pessimistic about his vision of Palestine. With a government with no real agenda – not least to build a peaceful state solution – and a population that is more focused on solving its economic predicament, he did not expect to see dramatic progress in his lifetime.