ICHR & Representatives of National and Political Parties in the Gaza Strip Called for Reconciliation and the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights

Representatives of various national and political factions and parties in the Gaza Strip stressed the need for positive political and national investment for what has been achieved in confronting the recent Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, and the need for genuine efforts to accomplish the long-waited reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas Movements. Efforts should be focused on immediately starting the process of national reconciliation on the basis of respect to human rights principles, which ensure that citizens enjoy all the rights and fundamental freedoms.

The discussion among Palestinian national parties took place during a meeting organized by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in the Gaza Strip for representatives of the national and Islamic factions and political parties on the occasion of ICHR's Commissioner-General's visit, Dr. Ahmad Harb to the Gaza Strip. The meeting was also attended by the ICHR Commissioners in Gaza, Zeinab Al-Ghoneimy, Mr. Issam Younis, and the legal staff.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Fatah and Hamas Movements, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fida Party, the Arab Palestinian Front (APF), the Popular Struggle Front (PSF), and the People's Party. Speakers confirmed that the voice of public interest must be given priority over private interests, national priorities over factionalizm, and human rights considerations over political and security considerations.

The meeting was opened by the Commissioner-General, who expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the martyrs during the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, and wished speedy recovery for the wounded, expressing tribute to the resilience of the Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip in confronting the Israeli military siege and aggression. Dr. Harb reiterated his assertion that ending the political division is a Palestinian interest, and that the national interest is given utmost priority over all other considerations.
Dr. Harb said that "this victory is to be completed by an important political achievement through the restoration of the national unity, the achievement of the principle of partnership, overcoming the political, partisan and geographical differences, and giving priority to human rights considerations." He stressed the need to respect and preserve human rights, to end the file of political arrests, to respect public freedoms, and to respect the principle of the rule of law.

He called for the need to lift the ban imposed on printing and distribution of the local newspapers in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip interactively as part of citizens' right to have access to information, and not taking any steps by any party prejudicing human rights in response to similar steps, especially since the Palestinian media has played an important and a unique role during its coverage of the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip which made it vulnerable to targeting by the Israeli military artilleries.

In this context, Taher Al-Nunu, official spokesman in the Gaza Strip government, expressed the government's willingness to lift the ban on the distribution of the newspapers in the Gaza Strip, adding "We trust ICHR and the role it plays in following up that right for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The situation after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip is different from what was previously, because the Palestinian people have achieved a historic achievement with their steadfastness against the aggression. With this new reality, our choice is to go to the national reconciliation with a political program based on resisting Israeli prolonged military occupation." He welcomed the step taken by President Mahmoud Abbas in bidding for the realization of a Palestinian State by the UN General Assembly. He also considered the government's decision in Gaza to release people who were arrested on the background of the political division in the Gaza Strip as a positive move towards reconciliation, calling for the formation of a national unity government of Palestinian technocrats, a government immediately undertakes comprehensive reform. "We want a single government and a single organization," he said.

For his part, Faisal Abu Shahla, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Fatah agreed with the view of the Hamas sposkesman, Al- Nono, that there is a new phase imposed by the Palestinian steadfastness during the Israeli military aggression, and that there is a sincere desire by Fatah and Hamas to achieve reconciliation. He stressed that steps taken by Hamas in welcoming the declaration of the State and the release of detainees during the division, show that Hamas is now acting in a more positive way towards reconciliation.

Rabah Muhanna, member of the political bureau of the Popular Front called for the need to start implementing the reconciliation that is now more urgent than ever. He called on both Fatah and Hamas to follow on previous efforts of reconciliation started in the "Cairo Understandings" agreed upon earlier for the achievement of reconciliation, with the need to begin activating the mechanisms of the local elections and the National Council elections, with emphasis on the need for any authority to commit to human rights principles.

Mahmoud Al-Zak, Politburo Member of the Popular Struggle Front, hoped that all parties benefit from achievements made by the Palestinian people in their steadfastness' and resistance to occupation during the military aggression on the Gaza Strip to push forward towards the implementation of national reconciliation, calling on all concerned parties to take positive steps in this direction promptly, by immediately allowing the distribution of daily newspapers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Luay al-Madhoun, Politburo Member of Fida Party, considered that the real victory is the people's resistance and steadfastness since our people were in a state of self-defense, calling for the need to launch public freedoms that should be enjoyed by our people being a right for all Palestinians.

Talat Al-Safadi Member of the Political Bureau of the People's Party expressed his pessimism towards ending the internal political division and restoration of the national unity soon, calling for the need to implement a national program on the ground for launching public freedoms, freedom of the masses to express their opinion.

Writer and Political Analyst Hani Habib called for the need to focus on the domestic front and the achievement of reconciliation, which is not only a Palestinian question, but has also become a regional issue. He expressed his appreciation for the resistance response to the military aggression, and the efforts made by the Gaza government administration during the war, where we have seen the spread of police everywhere. There were no violations, no robbery, nor any violation of public security, bakeries worked almost normally and have not seen any kind of congestion.

Muhsen Abu Ramadan, President of the Network of NGOs in the Gaza Strip considered that repelling the aggression has achieved deterrence, steadfastness and stability of Palestinian citizens on their land which is witnessing the beginning of the end of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Speakers emphasized the need to seriously address patterns of human rights violations systematically monitored over the past years of political division, including the file of media freedoms, preventing printing and distribution of local newspapers interchangeably in the West Bank and Gaza, especially after the Palestinian media proved its ability to expose the crimes of the occupation, the sacrifices made by the Palestinian media institutions through the martyrs, the wounded - journalists by being directly targeted by the Israeli fire during the assault on Gaza.

The participants in this meeting also praised the coherence of the internal front during the war, and the official authorities in the Gaza Strip performing their obligations efficiently to ensure the continuity of the daily life of citizens and enabling them to obtain basic goods and services, which contributed to improving the state of steadfastness and confronting the Israeli military aggression. During the meeting, there was a consensus to condemn the extrajudicial killings for a number of citizens (accused of collaboration with the enemy) during the aggression, stressing the need to expedite the process of investigation into those incidents, and the public announcement of the results of those investigations. All participants confirmed that such acts are serious violations to the right to life and the values ​​of justice and law.

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Harb confirmed ICHR's firm position in being an important actor and a catalyst in moving forward the reconciliation process on the basis of values ​​and principles of human rights. ICHR will continue to be biased to rights of the victims of human rights violations, and will consolidate its efforts towards the protection and promotion of these rights. ICHR will perform its tasks in accordance with its mandate as the Palestinian national state institution for human rights as stipulated in the Presidential Decree of its establishment and the Palestinian Basic Law. Dr. Harb finally noted that ICHR will follow up on all developments resulting from the military aggression on the Gaza Strip and on the upgrading of Palestine to the non-member state and their political and legal effects on the rule of law and the status of the human rights in Palestine.