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Palestinian Center for Human Rights
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A central principle of PCHR's work is that a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region, as well as the healthy development of Palestinian society, must be built on a foundation of respect for human rights and democratic principles.

The opposite assumption -- that human rights could be sacrificed in the name of political expediency -- was a fatal flaw of the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). After conducting a thorough legal assessment of the accords, PCHR determined that the Israeli occupation would continue to be a physical and legal reality.

According to these agreements, Israel redeployed its forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, yet Israeli settlements and military installations maintained their presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The major legal aspects of the Israeli occupation remained in place: Israeli military orders controlling the Palestinian people and their land remained valid under these agreements. The Israeli military court continued to function throughout the Oslo period, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners arrested long before the current Intifada languish in Israeli prisons to this day.

Moreover, the Oslo accords failed to address the essential elements of the Palestinian question -- the right to self-determination, the right to an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the removal of Israeli settlements from the OPT. In light of this wide-ranging disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people, the Centre resolved to continue its work to protect human rights from ongoing violations by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

The challenges and opportunities presented by the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) led to the Centre playing a vital and active role in promoting the development of democratic institutions, an active civil society, and a just legal system in Palestine. PCHR has and will continue to monitor the PNA's adherence to international human rights standards and democratic practices.

Israel's violent campaign to crush the Al-Aqsa Intifada and maintain the Occupation since September 2000 has only strengthened PCHR's resolve to work for the protection of human rights in Palestine and secure adequate international protection for the Palestinian people. It can only be hoped that if and when political negotiations resume in the future that all sides will learn from the past and treat human rights as a necessity and not a luxury.




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