The Palestinian Authority and Human Rights

By

TIME: 18:00 – 19:00, Tuesday 17th May 2016

VENUE: The Henry Jackson Society, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, SW1P 4QP

SPEAKER: Bassem Eid, Founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group

CHAIR: Tom Wilson, Research Fellow, The Henry Jackson Society

Tom Wilson:

Well hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the offices of the Henry Jackson Society. My name is Tom Wilson, I am a researcher here at the Centre of the New Middle East. It’s my privilege to welcome you all here. And this evening we have with us Bassem Eid who is a Palestinian activist, and he is going to be talking to us about his work. And then after that if Bassam is happy to do so, we will go through and take some questions from the audience. So Bassem, over to you.

Bassem Eid:

Thank you very much. I am prefer without mic my voice is so loud, and I believe that everybody is going to hear me, especially those who are sitting in the back. First of all, thank you to Tom very much. I would love to thank the Henry Jackson Society for giving me such an opportunity, for writing the report and for bringing me over here to give my own impression towards the current situation in the Palestinian territories. My name is Bassem Eid. I am a Palestinian. I grew up for thirty-three years in a refugee camp, in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem. I spent around 26 years, researching the violations of human rights. I started my human rights career with an Israeli organization called B’Tselem. And that was since the beginning of the first intifada, which started in December 1987. I worked for B’Tselem around 7.5 years. Researching violations of human rights, if it is in the Gaza strip, or in the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem. And B’Tselem used to publish its monthly reports about specific violations committed by the Israeli government or the Israeli Army against the Palestinians.

I remember very well that 13th of September 1993. Where is the Olso Accord has been signed between the PLO, at that time, and the Israeli government. On that night, a friend of mine called me and he asked me, “Bassem where are you?” And I said, “I am at home, watching the TV, looking to the two gentleman, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and how they are going to sign peace between them.” Then my friend said, “Bassem listen. Looks like that peace is coming and no violations of human rights are going to be committed, which means that must have to find a new job.” So I said at that time, “I’ll probably to be a tour guide. We would be the best because I know each small hole, if it is in Gaza Strip of it is in the West Bank.” But immediately I realized that the Palestinian leadership almost grown up and developed under a dictatorship regimes, from Syria, to Libya to Sudan to Algeria to Iraq, whatever you want. And the human rights issue is not going to be the priority of the Palestinian Authority. And I remember when Yasser Arafat entered onto the Gaza strip on the 3rd of July ‘94. Twenty-four hours after Arafat’s arrival to Gaza, the first Palestinian died in the Palestinian custody in Gaza strip. Unfortunately, since the Palestinian Authority arrived in ’94, looks like that neither the Palestinian human rights organizations, nor the Israeli human rights organizations are interested in documenting the violations committed by the Palestinian Authority. And that was the main reason why I decided to resign from B’Tselem at the end of July ’96. In January ’96, six months before I left B’Tselem, I was arrested by Yasser Arafat, by the way. And this is probably the award that Yasser Arafat gave it to me for my documentation of the Israeli violations against the Palestinians. But I was so happy that I kept in jail only for 25 hours. And the only one who succeed to release me from the Palestinian prison in that time was the former US Secretary Warren Christopher under the Bill Clinton Administration. He is the one who picked up the telephone and he talked directly to Yasser Arafat and he gave Yasser Arafat only five minutes to release me from the prison. So I was so lucky that I kept only for 25 hours, but in that time, I start realizing how I became a very important person. I was really a VIP person in that time. All of the media reported about my arrest. And that really made a kind of an earthquake to the Palestinian Authority. Then I decided to resign from B’Tselem. And to create the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. You know to create a human rights organization under the Arab regime, it looks like to commit a suicide. It’s not so easy, it’s so difficult, and personally I was defamed and slandered by Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat start contacting the funders of the organization and calling them not to fund such an organization. But I think, that Europe in that time, in that time not today, was very interested in supporting the human rights organizations, in supporting the human rights activists, in term to try to create a kind of a democratic system for the coming Palestinian state. We start researching, documenting, publishing, many reports towards human rights violations. Especially the issue of torture in the Palestinian jails. Especially the political arrests in the Palestinian territories. Especially the so-called security, state security court, where prisoners used to brought in front of judges and midnight, without any notice to their lawyers, without any notice to their relatives. And just on the next day, people hear on the radio that their son has been sentenced for life in prison.

I think, that world, especially the international community are not really so aware about the violations committed by the Palestinian authority. If you will look today, to the violations of human rights, I think that the Israeli violation of human rights almost has a huge coverage in the international media, but when it comes to the Palestinian Authority not one word has been written, in my opinion at least in the last 6 years, and I am wondering why the media has such a kind of double standard towards the violations of human rights. I think, that the media is very important right now, in terms to put an end for a such a kind of violations of human rights. We need the media as human rights activists, as a human rights organization. Without media we couldn’t function, we couldn’t be more effective towards the violations of human rights if the media is not going to report about it. And the question is why media trying to deny the violations committed by the Palestinian Authority. I have no idea. When I tried to ask some journalists, famous journalists, they told me that human rights issue is not the priority of the media. But why it became the priority when these violations committed by the Israelis? For such question, there is no answer. In my opinion the international community right now is not interested in anymore to fund organizations who are documenting violations of the Palestinian Authority. I think that the EU budget right now, the yearly budget for human rights, 2/3rd of the budget is going toward the Israeli human rights organizations to document the Israeli violations. What about the other 1/3rd? I guess that it is going much more to some Palestinians civil activities rather than towards the human rights issue. And this is probably one of the reasons why the Palestinian Authority right now, especially president Abbas is feeling so comfortable around the world and he is still considered as a very democratic leader. Because media is not reporting about his own security forces violations. Media is not following the statistics of Palestinians who have died in custody. And today, unfortunately, since 2007 until today, since the Hamas took over the Gaza strip in 2007, unfortunately, violations of human rights right now became a kind of a competition between the Fatah in the West Bank and the Hamas in the Gaza strip. If one guy will die in custody in the West Bank, after 24 hours, two guys died in custody in the Gaza strip. If the Palestinian Authority arrested Hamas members, or Hamas supporters, or Hamas sympathizers, immediately the Hamas started arresting Fatah members or Fatah sympathizers or Fatah supporters. And nobody cares. Even the Palestinians right now, are not really so care towards the violations of human rights. Because for the Palestinians right now, it is not the priority. The economic situation is the most priority that people are talking about. So when the situation coming like that, when the international community right now trying much more to focus on politics, I think that we, the Palestinians, almost forgot it. And our rights are not really remembered by any. And the Palestinian Authority has no agenda right now. Not only human rights agenda, even political agenda, even economic agenda. I don’t believe that the Palestinian Authority has any kind of agenda, right now. As you can see, we have a president right now who is sitting at his home in Ramallah, and waiting for the coming Palestinian to be killed by the Israelis in term to declare on him as a martyr. And probably to meet with his family on the next day, by giving them 2000 or 3000 dollars. In term, to escalate the current violence, which is unfortunately almost took place for the past maybe 10-8 months. While the Palestinian Authority is not trying to do anything in term to decrease such violence. So why you have such kind of leadership? I am not really so optimistic person towards the future. I am sometimes very doubt if the current Palestinian leadership is really going to build a Palestinian state. I don’t think that building the Palestinian State is the interest of the current Palestinian leadership. I don’t believe so.

So looks like that nobody is care, neither us, we are also not so care. And looks like things looks wonderful right now, especially when the criticism is focused much more today on Israel itself rather than on the Palestinian leadership. So probably I will stop right now and give you a little bit of time for some questions to make thing a little bit clear. Thank you very much.

[clapping]

Tom Wilson:

Bassem are you happy to take your own questions to select members of the audience?

Bassem Eid:

Yes, yes. Please.

Tom Wilson:

If people would like to raise their hands and you could just say your name and any relevant affiliation.

Bassem Eid:

Yes please.

Question One:

My name is Robert Issics (?) and I have got a few questions. I just want to put this to you. If the Palestinian Authority became more democratic, and it freed all political prisoners. Do you think somehow it could backfire, and had democratic elections you could end up with a Hamas or Islamic type state? And you would end up with the worse of two evils, rather than the lesser of two evils? I am thinking similarly in Egypt and you have el-Sisi there, I mean he got rid of, he did the democratic thing, but you might say that perhaps it’s better to have el-Sisi, where you have a, rather than a more Islamic government type situation.

Bassam Eid:

Sisi or Morsi?

Question One speaker:

Morsi. Sorry.

Bassam Eid:

Thank you. Unfortunately, I think that major problem here is a cultural problem, rather than it is a political, or whatever. In the Arab culture, the democracy and human rights is not exist. I was in the school, I was in the university, I never heard, by the way, about the so-called human rights. The first Palestinian human rights organization founded in 1982, not in the ‘60s, not in the ‘50s, not in the ‘70s, beginning of the ‘80s. Which means that it is not among our culture, so when it comes towards culture, I don’t think that we can be considered as professionals, on the issue of human rights or on the democracy. Now we should have, if it is going to make a kind of back fire or not. Let us think about the good things before we are thinking about the bad things. While it is not among the culture, it is very difficult to create it, to establish it. Never mind if it is going to bring such kind of backfire or not. Arab leaders never ever thought about democracy and about human rights. And this is why the youngest Arab leader almost rule his people at least for 30 years. Because of the lack of democracy because of the lack of human rights because it is not exist in our culture. So I couldn’t say that if Abbas will become a democratic leader he will be fired tomorrow morning. He almost announced that he is going to resign for 10s of times. But he never mentioned the date, when exactly he is going to resign. So we have a problem with such kind of people. On the other side, while it is not among our culture, it is very difficult to practice it. Look what’s happened after that so-called “Arab Spring.” Show me one Arab democratic regime came after the so-called “Arab Spring.” No one, even in Egypt. Even in Egypt, by the way. So it’s considered, in my opinion, the Arab leaders think that why democracy and human rights will be implemented that means that the regime will be totally unstable regime. So in term to keep the regime, so stable, you need to be a dictator.

Yes, please. Yes, gentleman.

Question Two:

Michael Bots [?]. I’m a member of the [inaudible] society. So this is a circle going nowhere in regards to the Arab culture doesn’t accept democracy, which I agree with. Then the prospect is a continuation what we are seeing in the Arab spring is a great [inaudible] the western imposed system of the first World War, which has lasted for nearly 100 years finally blew up because of lack of legitimacy. So what the west doesn’t seem to accept that the Arab world cannot [inaudible] what we believe in the west [inaudible]

Bassam Eid:

I really don’t know what the west believes in. I have no idea. In my opinion, the west since the ‘60s or the ‘50s even, tried to protect the dictatorship regime in the Arab countries. If you will look to Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, he was completely supported by the United States. No? So are the west really care about the rights of the Arab? I have doubt about it. I have so bad experience with the west by the way. I think, that the west has no idea what they are doing.

On the other side, if you will look today to the relationship as an example between Sisi in Egypt and the United States, it looks like totally unstable. Unstable. Why? In my opinion, with the all mistakes of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, I think he that he can probably be much more democratic leader than Mohamed Morsi, the Islamic Brotherhood movement leader. Why the United States is not trying to help Sisi right now in term to create a democratic system in Egypt? Sometimes people are asking why the United States is not supporting Sisi. I said probably because Mr. Obama himself is a member in the Islamic Brotherhood movement. Maybe. I have no idea. He’s a Muslim originally by the way. So we have problem. I didn’t see the west right now trying to help Sisi to create a democratic system in Egypt. I didn’t see. And I think that he is seeking help from everybody around the world. But nobody try right now to provide any kind of help to Sisi. If we would take the Gaza strip as an example, look to the Gaza strip today and look to the Gaza strip before the Israeli disengagement in September 2005. I am a person who used to say all the time that we the Palestinians in the Gaza strip almost destroyed what remains from the Israeli occupation in Gaza. We destroyed. I remember when Ariel Sharon declared on his plan to disengage from Gaza. Several Palestinian leaders start running from one TV channel to another TV channel by saying that if Israel will disengage from Gaza we are going to make from Gaza Singapore. I never been in Singapore, but I am wondering if the situation in Singapore like Gaza. It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. Look what is going on in Gaza right now. People became homeless in their homeland. And that’s of course because of the Hamas. I believe that the Hamas is the main reason for what is going on right now in the Gaza strip right now. Look to the relationship right now between Hamas and Egypt. Looks like that the relationship of Hamas and Israel, much much better than the relationship between Hamas and Egypt. Because the real blockade right now, which is imposed on the Gaza strip is imposed by the Egyptians rather than by the Israelis. The Israelis are still feeding 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Still feeding, supplying food, supplying oil, supplying medicine, only Israel doing that. While 22 Arab leaders are standing on the roofs of their villas and looking down what Israel is doing in Gaza. This is one of the major problems, in my opinion, of the Arabs, and mainly the Palestinians. Who is caring about the Palestinians right now? If you will look to each Arab country today, sometimes I am wondering how many Arab countries are really interested in a Palestinian state. I believe no one. No one. While everyone of them demanding Israel to found the Palestinian state. They are not demanding the Palestinians to found the Palestinian state, by the way. They are demanding Israel to found the Palestinian state.

So we have a big problem. We have big problem. If you will look to us as a Palestinian, probably we have one conflict with Israel, but we have several conflicts with each Arab country around the world right now. Several conflicts, with each Arab country around the world, especially with Jordan on east Jerusalem. So this is the situation, unfortunately.

Question Three:

Thank you very much. You describe it be black. So how do you see the prospect of the blocking…

Bassam Eid:

I am really not an optimistic person towards the situation. I used to call the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the unsolved conflict. I don’t believe that it is going to be solved. At least in my days’ time. I don’t believe. I think that it probably the Palestinians need one more generation. Probably the coming generation or from the coming generation, it will probably be a charismatic leader will be born. And then he probably he will be able to solve it. But today, I didn’t see any signs of any solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And if you will ask me who is the alternative to Mahmoud Abbas, I will tell you, Mahmoud Abbas. Which means that there is a lack of leadership we don’t have a leadership. We used to have a prominent Fatah guy called Mohammed Dahlan. He used to run to be the head of the Palestinian Preventative Security forces in Gaza during Arafat’s period. And after Arafat, he get in trouble with Mahmoud Abbas and right now he is staying in Dubai because he was corrupt and he became very rich and he is running his own businesses in Dubai. Sometimes when I am talking to Palestinians I said you know I have an alternative to Abbas. Then people ask. Who is? I said what about Mohammed Dahlan. Then people said, listen, but he is corrupt. I said you are right, he is corrupt. But if you will ask me, I prefer a young corrupt than an old corrupt. This is the only choice I have. I prefer a young corrupt on the old corrupt. So if the Palestinians are talking about their own leadership as a corrupt leadership. So that is also not giving really a lot of chances towards any solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yes David.

Question Four:

Thank you, I’m David Bedein. I’m the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research in Jerusalem, and I have the pleasure of working with Bassem on a regular bases as part of our center. I want to thank the Henry Jackson Society for having the courage to have Bassem here and I just want to say that my father was a friend of Henry Jackson and I just this week got the dossier from the KGB about Henry Jackson, what they did to prevent him from becoming president of the United States by neutralizing through black mail. He was the only one who would not be placated. This is the only organization in London ready to hear Bassem Eid. Thank you, the Henry Jackson Society, for doing that. My suggestion to people here today, we’re pleased to work with you. Our agency meets with diplomats all over and primarily around the issue of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Bassam, grew up in an UNRWA camp. Diplomats want to see Bassem to hear from the first hand what’s going on so they can condition aid, not Eid, Bassem Eid, on honesty and transparency. So if there are people here for the Jackson Society itself want to bring Bassam to meet with diplomats in special meetings. I think that would be a wonderful thing because the honesty in the Middle East can be of not only one people but of many peoples who will speak up and meet with the people who are interested in transparency, and if there was anything that Henry Jackson stood for it was for transparency and conditioning aid on honesty and clear accountability. So that’s an agenda, you have a one pager here of a new book that Bassem is writing now to show that the BDSM hurts, who? Who does the BDS hurt, Bassem?

Bassem Eid:

I think that this is also a probably a new human rights violation in the 21st century. The so-called BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. Those people who used to be jobless, and they found jobs. The members of the BDS used to be jobless and they found jobs because this is why I call it unsolved conflict. So they found a job forever. I think that the activities of the BDS these people are not only harassing the Palestinian economy, these people are not only kicking out Palestinians from their jobs. These people also in the meantime, causing damage to the Palestinian children. Imagine when somebody kicked out of his job, immediately his children will lose their medical insurance, so this is how the BDS trying to help the Palestinians. To avoid any jobs for them and to avoid their children from any medical insurance. I think, that the majority of the Palestinians in the meantime, has no idea what does it mean, what is the meaning of the BDS. Or what is the BDS. I tried personally to ask a lot of individual Palestinians or {inaudible] Palestinians, “have you heard about the BDS.” “No, I have no idea.” And that’s reminding me with the Israeli factory, the Soda Stream. You know the consequences of moving the Israeli factory from the West Bank to the south of Israel, 2,500 Palestinian workers lost their jobs. 2,500. Imagine, how many 1000s of children of these workers lost their medical insurance. When I met with some Palestinian workers who lost their jobs at the Soda Stream, I ask one question, “do you know who is standing behind losing your job?” And then people said, “no.” And I said, “the BDS.” One of them asked me, “oh my God. Show me the BDS. I will want to kill him.” That means people really has no idea what is the BDS.

Unfortunately right now I didn’t see even one research which has been conducted among the Palestinians about the BDS. I didn’t see one research. And I am very interested to conduct such kind of research among the Palestinians. Not only in the West Bank, but also in the Gaza Strip. And to bring a big research, what the Palestinian thinking about the BDS if they heard about the BDS. This is very interesting. I was just, a month ago, I spent two months in the United States and I appeared in 47 different universities around all of the United States. I think that these people, the BDS members, almost succeed to mislead the most of the students in the American universities. They succeed. And it’s a big, big problem because the majority of the students in the United States believes that the BDS is the solution. Because the media never ever try to report how the BDS is affecting the Palestinians negatively. They are not interested, they are not interested to report. And we have a big problem as the Palestinians. I believe that the Palestinian leadership is supporting the BDS. But in the meantime, we don’t have even one member of the BDS functioning neither in the West Bank nor in the Gaza Strip. Because for these people it is much more comfortable to act in the United States and to act in Europe. I believe if any member of the BDS will appear one day in one Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank and will call the people to boycott Israel, I believe shoes the people are going to throw on them. Because what is the alternative, everybody is asking about the alternative. If I will boycott Israel tomorrow, who is going to feed me? Who is going to find a job for me? Let’s take the opposite. Imagine that Israel tomorrow will decide to boycott the Palestinians, what will happen to the Palestinians? Who will be care about the Palestinians? The Americans will find jobs for us, the Europeans will feed us, it’s very strange what is really going on. But I think in the meantime, that we the Palestinians still very aware on what is really surrounding us. Thank you.

Question Five:

I just wanted to go back for one second to what you were saying about the Americans. Why are the Americans not supporting Sisi. I don’t think that question needs to be asked, because we just have to recognize that current American administration is an aberration from every angle. And we don’t expect anything good to come out of it, and so we will set that aside.

Bassam Eid:

So you answered the question. [laughter]

Question Five Continued:

It is an aberration unfortunately. That we have had to live for almost eight years. But going on from what you were saying, the hopelessness of the Palestinian situation. I agree with everything you’ve said, there is no doubt that there is something wrong with the culture, something wrong with the mentality of the dictatorship and lack of human rights. It’s all in front of us to see. But you are missing out, that it is the west that is enabling the regime in Ramallah. The west is funding it. The west enable it. In your words they didn’t fund a Palestinian human rights organization, which were monitoring Palestinian violations, but only Israeli violations. The west is actually enabling it. The time is for you to stand up and point the finger where you want to point it.

Bassam Eid:

This is exactly what I said. That the west is supporting the dictatorship systems and regimes. Supporting it. The west, supporting it. By giving it funding to Abbas…

Question Five Continued:

It’s because they hate Jews. That’s all there is to it. That’s the beginning and the end of it.

Bassam Eid:

But in the meantime, I don’t believe that they love the Arabs. [laughter] Anyhow, I totally agree that the west should have to condition their donations and their funding to the Palestinian Authority. I think that I said that in 1998, just 4 years after the arrival of the Palestinian Authority. I said that funding must have to be conditional and it is very sad when I am looking today to some ministers and prime ministers who are coming to Ramallah and visiting Abbas. No one of them tried to raise the issue of human rights, no one of them tried to raise the issue of the democratic system under the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, but this is the west. I am not expecting any good things from the west. I almost lost the trust in the west but today I am much more blaming the Palestinians. I think we should have to build democracy and human rights. It is our main job, it is not the west’s job. And I am wondering when the Palestinians will really wake up, at least towards their own rights, it is my own right, it is my children’s rights, I must have to stand up and start fighting from today before tomorrow. But unfortunately as I said, that the majority of the Palestinians right now are much more busy with their economy rather than anything else.

Yes, please.

Question Six:

Michael Bentley (?), the Henry Jackson Society. I’m not quite aware of the BDS and the extent of it in the United States, but certainly here in the UK, on the university campuses it’s rife and its quite a vile organization and you would probably be a terrific voice to challenge the activism of the Palestinian backing by the English academia, you would have, be a firsthand example of what it’s really all about. How you would go about getting an invitation, I think they wouldn’t want to know you. But it would be very good if you could, be a [inaudible] from that angle, just coming back to how you were originally following the route. There have been very few shinning, Sadat [Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat] for example, was an example of a great leader but as so often happens, in that part of the world a great leader isn’t a great leader for very long. He is a dead leader before long. Now do you see the younger generation having the courage to stand up and develop rational, proper-thinking and directional attitudes of the way the Middle East and the Palestinian Problem should solved. Do you see anybody having the courage or they’ll be frightened for their very lives with the gentle Islamic movement beheading them all, or holding them hostage…

Bassem Eid:

Ok, I’m going, thank you. Unfortunately looks like that the world is full hatred and incitement. Especially when things coming towards Israel and the Jewish people. No doubt that the fundamentalism and the extremism right now increasing around the world. And that will bring more and more hatred and incitement towards Israel and the Jewish people. If we will look today what is surrounding the Middle East, it’s horrible. It’s horrible. Sometimes I used to say that if we will look carefully, to the Middle East map probably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most safe place in the Middle East. The most safe place in the Middle East. As a Muslim, as an Arab I don’t want to be in Syria, I don’t want to be in Libya, I don’t want to be in Yemen, I don’t want to be in Iraq. It’s much more safer for me to be wherever I am. It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. Terror is growing, especially of course, the Islamic terror. It is growing everywhere. Everywhere. And that’s the real danger, right now, for all of the world. All of the world. If you will look today to the International Community I don’t think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is their priority. It’s not. It’s not. I think that terror is the priority right now. How can you fight terror? Terror right now is eating the green and the dry around the world. And terror is bringing more and more hatred and incitement. Unfortunately.

If we will go to Sadat, I love Sadat by the way, I was very young when he came to Israel in 1977. I remember when Sadat gave an interview to one of the Israeli newspapers on his trip to Israel in ’77. The journalist who interviewed Sadat, among the other questions, asked Sadat one question, “how many Arab countries are in the world?” And Sadat said, “one. The Arab Republic of Egypt.” Then the journalist asked, “what about the others?” Then Sadat said, “the others are tribes with flags.”

Looks like we are tribes with flags. And probably this is, when some people start talking today, by saying, “listen why the Palestinians need a state?” Let’s divide the Palestinians to several tribes and each tribe will control a specific area. We have two big tribes in Hebron, they can rule Hebron. Two tribes in Nablus, they can rule Nablus. Have tribe in Jericho, they can rule Jericho. And this is how the Palestinian should have to solve their own problems. So looks like that we are originally, tribes rather than nations. Thank you.

[Clapping]

Please.

Question Seven:

I have two interrelated questions, that you sort of touched on just there. I have seen an article of yours that have been quite ambiguous about the two state solution, so your thoughts on one state, two state. And I guess that was more like an eight state solution…

Bassem Eid:

The tribes one. [inaudible]

Question Seven Continued:

So you thoughts in general on the long term solution is viable and if you have any thought about it. And my other one is you were talking about research done on the populations, I wondered your thoughts, there seems to be a lot of hatred towards the Israelis and Jews amongst the general populations.

Bassem Eid:

Yes, I think that…ok I got it.

Question Seven Continued:

And your relations in UNWRA as well. And the education.

Bassem Eid:

I think that UNWRA unfortunately, it became a part of the conflict rather than a part of the solution. This is the major problem of UNWRA, of course, this is the policy of the United Nations in the meantime. I think that no doubt, that the curriculum on UNWRA is the Palestinian schools right now is trying to increase the hatred and the incitement against the Israelis. It’s horrible, when you are going to any UNWRA school in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip or even in Jordan. Even in Jordan. These people, these students, you know, these kids, 7-8-9 years old still talking about suicide bombing, still talking about Jihadism against the Jews. And when you ask, “who are teaching you such kind of horrible things?” They said, “the school, the teachers.” And even some of the teachers almost confirm that this is exactly what we are teaching. This is horrible at least for me at least as a Palestinian. Who is trying, you know, to find a kind of peace who fears to live under, I think that’s horrible. It’s frightening me before any other Israeli. So this is one of the major problems, and the problem is that UNWRA is still very easy for them to get to nations and to get funding from the west, especially from Europe and the United States. It’s very easy, just by telephone they can collect 100 million dollars in 24 hours. And this is also another problem. And this is what I used to say all the time, how is such kind of organization like UNWRA are using the Palestinian suffering. Because the interest of UNWRA is not, by the way, to solve the conflict. The interest is how to keep the Palestinians suffering more and more because otherwise the UNWRA people would lose their jobs. This is one of the major problems. But I don’t know, I am not the one who is funding UNWRA, I am completely wish to see tomorrow morning, the UNWRA and the UN even, will be closed and shut down. But that’s a dream. That’s a dream. Because in term to keep the conflicts around the world, you need the UN. You need the UN, just recently I heard, that the monthly salary of Mr. Ban Ki Moon is $35,000 a month. Can you believe it. That is beside the other benefits: houses, driver, employees in the office. And I am wondering what is really the main job of Ban Ki Moon right now. In my opinion he just became concerned from time to time. This is very hard. This is very hard to be concerned. This is very hard. Not anyone can be concerned like Ban Ki Moon. No one. Half million people killed in Syria, I think that Ban Ki Moon was three times concerned about them. It is a rubbish. It is a rubbish UN. But, these people are using the tragedies of the nations as a paradise for them. This is how these people can only exist, unfortunately.

Question Eight:

How many people think like you among the Palestinians in the West Bank?

Bassem Eid:

I think a lot. A lot. But people are afraid. People are afraid to speak out. People are afraid.

Question Eight Continued:

What about the children we see, the suicide attacks and the families, supposedly, rejoicing. And distributing candies, where is that coming from?

Bassem Eid:

I think that the families are doing it much more for the media, rather than for anybody else around the world. I met with some mothers that their sons tried to stab, or stabbed and killed. It’s horrible. When I met them it was horrible. It was horrible. And when I asked the mother, “why you became so happy in front of the TV.” Then she said, “what can I do? What can I do? You want me to cry?” I said, “yes of course. I want you to cry. In front of everybody around the world you must have cried.” I think that they are in a horrible situation. In a horrible situation. But unfortunately, there are also some media who are trying to also incite these people. In term, you know, to pass away their own interests here. So looks like everybody is surviving on our suffering.

Question Eight Continued:

Including the left in Israel.

Bassem Eid:

They are dancing these people.

Yes, please in the back.

Question Nine:

Thank you. Do you think that there is anything Israel can do to help promote democracy and stop the human rights violations by the PA?

Bassem Eid:

You think if Israel will try to help will Abbas accept this such help?

Question Nine Continued:

But I mean, outside of…

Bassem Eid:

I do not think it should have to come from Israel. Why Israel? Why Israel? We have another over than 180 countries around the world. Why only Israel? Why not the United States who are giving money. Why not France who want to recognize the Palestinian state? It’s sometimes you know I became sick when I am reading a different foreign policies of some European countries. I really became very sick. And that’s reminding me with the whole issue of the recognition of the Palestinian State. Right now France want to make an international conference and France threatening Israel that if you are not going to accept it, we are going to recognize the Palestinian state. Sometimes I am wondering which state you are going to recognize. Where is the state that you are going to recognize? A state which has no infrastructure of state. A state which has no economy of state. A state where there is over than 52 percent of each populations are living in refugee camps. These is the state that you want to recognize? This is not the state that I want. This is not that the state that I am dreaming in. And sometimes I am asking, how many times you have to recognize a state? How many times? In 2013 if you remember, at one of the sessions of the General Assembly of the Security Council, a 138 countries almost recognized the Palestinian state. 138 countries recognized the Palestinian state. Where is the state? I want the French to show me the state that they are going to recognize. Where is the state? We are stateless. We are stateless. And this is, I think, one of the problem of the international community foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before you recognize the state, try to build the infrastructure of the state. Try to help the Palestinians. Leave the Palestinian Authority. We have no expectation from the Palestinian Authority by the way. No expectation at all. I wish to see some countries, real countries to start to building the Palestinian infrastructure of the state before the recognition of the state. This is the problem.

Last question please.

Question Ten:

I just wondered what you view is on the strategic goals of the current leadership with Fatah. And how that is related, or if you think there is any relation to the lack of human rights within the Palestinian Authority.

Bassem Eid:

It’s not because of the Fatah, or because of the Hamas, as we said in the beginning it’s a cultural issue. I didn’t see that the human rights has any kind of agenda, right now. Or any kind of priority in any Arab regime. In Tunisia there is human rights? In Sudan there is human rights? In Iraq there is human rights? Unfortunately, it’s not the priority. It’s not on the agenda. And that’s reminding me with a very interesting article I read just a few weeks ago on one of the most famous Arab websites. The journalist was from Saudia [sic], he wrote an article with the title, “Israel disappeared. Israel disappeared from the Arab Media scene.” Very interesting title. Israel is not appeared right now in the Arab media scene. Why? Because the Arabs start realizing how Arabs are killing Arabs and how Muslims are killing Muslims and Israel has nothing to do. So if Israel disappeared from the Arab media scene that means Israel is in a very good shape in the Middle East. In a very good shape right now. So this is the real Arab human rights. Why people are killing, you know sometimes, sometimes when people are talking between themselves in Iraq especially, and they said you know have you heard about the bomb this early morning? Then the guy said, “how many people killed?” He told him, “fifty.” “Ah, only fifty? Ah this is very small bomb. Very small bomb.” This is the real human rights for the Arabs.

Great that you so much. And I wish next time we can speak, you now, much more on positive things, rather than this time, thank you very much.

Tom Wilson:

And I would just like to say on behalf of the Henry Jackson Society to say thank you to all of you for coming and to say thank you to Bassem Eid.

Bassem Eid:

Thank you, thank you.

HJS



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