Both sides must stop killing civilians & respect human rights
Gaza escalation risks a major regional conflict
Palestinians and Israelis have a right to self-determination
London – 21 November 2012
“The conflict in Gaza, and the wider long standing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, is a human rights issue. Both sides stand accused of human rights violations according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. However, the Israeli seizure and occupation of Palestinian land, and the denial of a Palestinian state, is the root cause of the on-going conflict and the current flare up in Gaza. There is unlikely to be lasting peace without first securing justice for the people of Palestine – and then security for the people of Israel,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Palestinians have a right to their own homeland – just like Jews. It is time for peace, justice, equality and security for all – Palestinians and Israelis – with two co-existing states based on the 1967 borders,” he said.
Urge world leaders to press for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, alongside Israel. SIGN the Avaaz petition:
“While rocket attacks on Jewish civilians are wrong, Israel’s escalation in Gaza risks sparking a major regional conflict, possibly involving Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. This is not in the interest of the people of Israel, Palestine or the wider region,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Palestinians are justified to non-violently resist Israel’s seizure of land, demolition of houses, destruction of crops and the killing of civilians. The divisive, sectarian ‘apartheid wall’ and the building of illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank undermines the prospects for peace and plays into the hands of Islamist extremists.
“Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians does not justify Islamists firing rockets into Jewish civilian areas. Nor do rocket attacks justify Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the consequent civilian deaths. Israeli actions are tantamount to the terrorisation and collective punishment of the Gaza population, which is illegal under international law.
“Killing civilians is a war crime – whoever does it, for whatever reason. The human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians must be protected.
“The cycle of attack and counter-attack, revenge and pay-back, is immoral and futile. Neither side gains. Insecurity is compounded and the seeds of further conflict are sown.
“An-eye-for-an-eye leaves everyone blind,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell Foundation researcher, James Howarth, added:
“The Hamas regime in Gaza is guilty of serious human rights abuses against its own Palestinian citizens, including unfair trials, torture and executions.
“See, as one example, the Human Rights Watch report: ‘Abusive System: Failures of Criminal Justice in Gaza’, October 2012:
“Hamas has also sanctioned rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. As well as being anti-Semitic, Hamas is an authoritarian, reactionary anti-human rights movement.
“While people are right to be critical of Israel’s stance towards the Palestinians, it is also important to defend the Jewish people against Islamists and other anti-Semites,” said Mr Howarth.
“The way forward for peace in the Middle East must be based on security for both sides, humanitarian justice, the observance of human rights and may be served by the following scenario,” noted Mr Tatchell.
“The long-term interests and security of the Jewish people would be best served if Israel seized the moral high ground by unilaterally withdrawing from its occupation of the West Bank, ending the siege of Gaza and dismantling the separation wall (which unjustly divides Palestinian communities from each other and often from their farmland).
“Israel could simultaneously recognise an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and join with the international community, including Western nations, to fund Palestinian schools, houses, roads, libraries and hospitals, to reassure the Palestinian people and win their hearts and minds.
“Such an initiative could potentially have a huge positive impact on the peace process. From an Israeli point of view, it is likely to win worldwide praise for Israel and do more than anything else to counter the de-legitimation that it fears.
“This grand gesture of justice and reconciliation would seriously weaken Hamas and the jihadists. They would lose the raison d’etre for their hardline stance. They would become marginalised. Many (possibly most) ordinary grassroots Palestinians would begin to change their attitudes to Israel and be won for peace – healing wounds and building new bonds between Jew, Arab, Christian and Muslim.
“A just peace where Jews and Arabs live together in equality and harmony sounds hard to believe right now, but it can happen with political will on both sides, supported by the international community.
“In the north of Ireland, the idea of arch enemies, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein, sharing political power in a joint government administration was, only a few years ago, deemed fanciful. Now it has happened. If peace can come to Ireland, why not to Israel and Palestine?
“It is time to: Give peace a chance,” urged Mr Tatchell.
For further information: