Bassem Eid visits the Henry Jackson Society

It was an honour to host founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, Palestinian activist Bassem Eid. Bassem spoke with Charlotte Littlewood, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and founder of Become The Voice CIC that spent two years working with women in Hebron.

Bassem has an intriguing and powerful story to tell, one which starts in a refugee camp in East Jerusalem, moves into research for B’Tselem and ends with the founding of his own organisation that focuses on the Palestinian Authority’s human rights abuses. His aim: to end violence in the region and bring about peace and security.

Bassem’s concern centres on the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. He sees them as both oppressed by the PA and the political situation between Israel and Palestine. What he is not afraid of is criticizing the PA, therefore setting him apart from many pro-Palestine activists that solely focus on the occupation. He shared with us his belief that, until the PA is replaced by a liberal, democratic Palestinian party then there is no hope of a successful peace agreement.

He then told us why. The PA, he declared, has lost the support of its people. Having held onto power since 2006, it has consistently failed to hold democratic elections. It has recently been exposed by David Rose of the Jewish Chronicle for murdering popular human rights activist Nizar Banat, thought by some to represent a potential opposition to the PA.

Charlotte shared with Bassem and the audience about the depleting defence of women’s rights organisations in the region along with increasing Islamisation. Both speakers emphasised the importance of supporting the educated, liberal sections of the youth and brave organisations such as women’s rights charities.

Beyond the PA, Bassem lamented over the bizarre notion that Gaza and the West Bank could ever be united towards a two-state solution. The Gazans, he stressed, are unwanted by the people of the West Bank being that they are more connected with Egypt whilst the West Bank has Jordanian roots. The cultural difference, he asserted, is just too great. This led to an intriguing question from the audience – what about Egypt taking back Gaza? Bassem thought this would strategically be the wisest move to bring about a peaceful solution, but that Egypt would never accept. It would appear that, for now, Gaza will continue to behave and be treated like a separate country by the West Bank, Israel and Egypt.

On how we build a peaceful future, Bassem emphasised the importance of growing economic ties, especially the movement of workers from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel. He believes that this will cultivate a growing tolerance and dependency between the actors in the region.

At the close of the event Bassem was asked whether, with the contention that Israel is invested in taking control of area C if not the whole of West Bank, is it not futile to discuss liberal Palestinian opposition to the PA and warming relations via economic ties? The audience member asked if Israel genuinely desired a viable opposition. Bassem responded that it must be about what the Palestinians want, what allows for the violence to end, and he, a Palestinian, asked for the focus to be taken off what Israel is doing and its perceived intentions and to put the immediate struggle under the PA.

Bassem called for the cessation of funding and international support to the PA. Charlotte added that the British forces must halt their efforts to train the PA Preventative Security forces that are responsible for the killing of Nizar Banat. The future of Palestine must be built on the likes of future Banats rising to the fore, a future no longer dictated by Mahmood Abbas.


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