The Human Rights Committee of the Brazilian Parliament devoted a public hearing session on Wednesday evening to the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For the first time, the Brazilian Parliament invited a number of Palestinians to come to Brazil and speak about the systematic human rights violations by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people, their land, property and freedom, calling on Brazilian deputies to exert more pressure on the occupation and expose its crimes. The Brazilian Parliament also invited members of the Brazilian committee to visit the Palestinian territories to find out the truth about Israeli crimes there.
The committee, headed by federal representative Leonardo Montero, has extended an unprecedented official invitation to several Palestinian parliamentary figures to participate in the session. Among them were Hassan Khreisheh, the second deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestinian Ambassador to Brasília Ibrahim Al-Zaben, President of the Brazilian-Palestinian Institute (Iberspal) Ahmed Shehadeh and President of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL) Ualid Rabah.
"Today, I'm here to convey the real situation in Palestine, beginning with the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, the refuge of millions of Palestinians, violence and arbitrariness of the Israeli occupation, the blockade of Gaza and the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem," the Second Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Dr Hassan Khreisheh expressed during the session.
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Dr Khreisheh, who travelled a long way from the Gaza Strip to Brazil, despite all the difficulties and challenges, spoke on behalf of Gaza and all Palestinians. Furthermore, Dr Khreisheh invited the Brazilians to visit Palestine and see not only the suffering of people there, but also the beauty of cities like Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza. At the end of the session, Dr Khreisheh delivered a commemorative plaque to Congressman Leonardo Monteiro as a symbol of friendship between Brazil and Palestine.
In an interview with Dr Khreisheh, he confirms to MEMO that the invitation from the Brazilian Parliament represents a new and important step in the already good relationship between Brazil and the Palestinian Parliament. He says: "The invitation came after the election of President Lula da Silva who always supports the Palestinian cause and shows his interest in strengthening Brazilian-Palestinian relations. Brazil is one of the influential countries in the region, and its people are friendly and welcoming to other nationalities and our Palestinians in Brazil particularly."
Dr Khreisheh adds: "Gaza has revived the global conscience as we knocked on all doors to draw attention to our cause. In contrast, the world did not respond much to us. A large number of decisions were taken in favour of the Palestinian cause, but none of them was implemented. Today, we have no choice but to address the world in one language away from the language of division."
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For over an hour and a half, the speakers and guests discussed the crimes of the Israeli occupation with appeals to the Brazilian authorities to re-establish a balanced, diplomatic relationship on the Palestinian cause. Rabah, the president of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL), asked Brazilian deputies and other decision-makers to put pressure on United Nations (UN) resolutions to achieve justice for Palestine and protect it from the Israeli occupation.
"Brazil has always had a firm supporting position towards the Palestinian cause. For the last four years, it was broken by the Bolsonaro government, but we are starting to restore it little by little," Rabah told MEMO. "According to Article 4 of the Brazilian Legislative Constitution, Israel practices illegal and inhumane practices towards the Palestinian people, and the Brazilian Congress rejects all these practices."
President of the Brazil-Palestine Institute (IBRASPAL) Ahmed Shehada recalled 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, with Israeli soldiers killing at least 125 Palestinians. "This session represented a great achievement. It is not easy for Palestinian parliamentary figures to be invited to the Brazilian Parliament. Many obstacles were placed in front of these calls, but we were able to overcome them with the support of Brazilian deputies who support our cause," Shehada told MEMO.
He adds: "We mobilised parliamentarians through this committee to discuss Zionist violations against the Palestinian people and their properties in the occupied territories. So, we ask the Human Rights Committee of the Brazilian Congress to exercise its role because human rights around the world are general and not limited to a country or time," he concluded.
In an unprecedented step, the Brazilian Congress invited several Palestinian deputies and personalities to attend sessions in Parliament. Due to the complexities of the occupation, only a few could attend the session. Despite this, the session succeeded in mobilising many Brazilian parliamentarians to prove to the occupation that global solidarity with the Palestinian cause has become widespread and effective.
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