Confronting Human Rights Abuses in the Palestinian Authority

By Bassem Eid

Today The Henry Jackson Society launches an important new study by Palestinian human rights advocate Bassem Eid, detailing the extensive and serious range of abuses of human rights and civil liberties that have been committed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and how these are a hindrance to peace.

Confronting Human Rights Abuses in the Palestinian Authority: An Essential Step for Progress in the Region offers an unprecedented in-depth account of the Palestinian Authority’s human rights record. In particular, the report outlines how the Palestinian Authority’s failure to implement democratic and responsible governance is increasing grievances within the Palestinian population, risking further instability in the future. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority’s direct and wilful engagement in incitement has exacerbated the ongoing conflict with Israel and put the Palestinian civilian population in greater harm’s way.

The report’s major findings include:

  • The Palestinian Authority sufferes from a critical democratic deficit, having failed to hold elections since 2006.
  • The Palestinian Authority has a long and troubling record with regards to the issuing of the death penalty and has been responsible for numerous extrajudicial killings of individuals held in its detention facilities. There is an equally serious and widespread phenomenon of torture and extreme physical abuse that has taken place in Palestinian Authority prisons.
  • Arbitrary arrest and detention continues to be a serious point of concern within the Palestinian Authority.
  • Freedom of the press and freedom of expression over social media has been routinely interfered with by the authorities in the Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank.
  • The Palestinian Authority has consistently infringed upon the basic civil right of freedom of assembly and freedom to protest. The police regularly disrupt non-violent demonstrations and have often used excessive force and violence when dispersing protestors.
  • President Abbas and other Fatah officials, along with Palestinian media outlets, have engaged in extremist incitement that has caused death and injury to many Israeli civilians, while also encouraging Palestinians to put themselves in harm’s way when carrying out attacks and violent rioting.
  • Women living in the Palestinian Authority suffer from widespread discrimination and unequal treatment with little or no assistance from the authorities to mitigate against this. Similarly, homosexuals face severe ongoing persecution.

The report’s findings also have important implications for formulating British policy for the region. As noted in the paper, the Palestinian Authority is the recipient of substantial levels of financial aid from the international community.

As Britain seeks to encourage the Palestinian Authority to move towards reforming its human rights record and undemocratic conduct, policy makers should consider whether further financial assistance should increasingly be predicated upon the Palestinian leadership taking quantifiable measures to improve civil liberties for the Palestinian population.

Read the full report here.


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