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EU parliament reminded of Palestinian political prisoners' plight

January 23, 2014 at 4:30 am

In a joint letter to the European Parliament, sixteen Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations have urged the European Parliament to send a fact-finding mission to “assess the current situation with regard to the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, and the use of administrative detention.” The letter is also endorsed by The Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and all political prisoners, and The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat.

The letter refers to the European Parliament resolution of March 13, 2013, regarding the case of Arafat Jaradat and other political prisoners in Israeli jails. While the resolution takes into account a comprehensive overview of the deteriorating conditions and violations of international law with regard to Palestinian prisoners, the recommendations remain a source of political illusion. Concern is once again expressed, together with perfunctory calls for the release of political prisoners, appropriate treatment for detained women and children, adequate medical care for prisoners on hunger strike and a call to end administrative detention. The resolution also calls for a fact-finding mission, which has so far proven to be another elusive detail.

Resolutions stand in sharp contrast to reality. While serving to address an escalated moment of media coverage, or outrage, the political lament fails to sustain itself beyond that critical moment. As the significant – indeed symbolic cases, of Arafat Jaradat’s death at the hands of Shin Bet, and Samer Issawi’s agreement to end his hunger strike gradually fade from immediate memory, resolutions are enshrined within that particular period of history, having served the moment without critically addressing the violations.

In the case of Palestinian prisoners, resolutions have so far been ineffective at combating the systematic oppression occurring in Israeli jails. Recognition and condemnation of the constant violations has not wrought any changes, partly because the resolutions do not express any urgency to combat the constant abuses. Israel does not face any formidable criticism, is not threatened with sanctions or any form of intervention, hence Palestinian prisoners continue to suffer indignities and humiliation at the expense of political and economic ties. Instead of addressing the illegal occupation, resolutions address collective human rights violations when a particular case determines obligatory rhetoric.

Israel has routinely failed to cooperate with fact-finding missions or their ensuing recommendations, often declaring prejudice of the mission against the Israeli state while ignoring the fact that the actual state was constructed upon illegalities which have been endorsed and sustained by prominent political players within the international community. Any formidable criticism by individuals associated with international organisations, such as in the case of Richard Falk, has been transformed into cries of anti-Semitism.

If the initiative taken by these human rights organisations is ignored by the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, the resolution and recommendations so meticulously worded will prove to have amounted to nothing. Meanwhile Palestinian prisoners are abandoned in their resistance against administrative detention and various forms of torture. As circumstances have shown, it is up to human rights organisations and Palestinian prisoners themselves, at the risk of imprisonment or death, to fight against the oppressive system financed by Israel’s strategic partners in both business and international law violations.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.