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
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