Al Mezan Center for Human Rights sent an Open Letter to diplomatic missions to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) today.
The Center aimed at making clear its views regarding the Israeli process of disengagement and its implications for the future of the peace process and, by extension, the future of the Palestinians and Israelis.
In this letter the Center provided that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has been occurring in tandem with continued illegal construction of the Separation Wall in the West Bank and the expansion of settlements there, and under mounting Israeli statements regarding annexation of major parts of the West Bank to Israel ‘for ever’, including frequent statements by Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.
Added to this is Ariel Sharon’s recent statements, declaring his intent to continue expanding the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim until it connects with Jerusalem, which underscore this fact.
The Unilateral Disengagement Plan states that Israel will maintain “exclusive authority” over Gaza’s airspace, as well as the right to patrol the Gaza Strip’s coastline.
Further, Israel “reserves its fundamental right of self-defense, both preventive and reactive” including the use of force.
By this, it is clear that Gaza will remain occupied territory and Israel will remain, with all the responsibilities the status brings, an occupying power.
The Center asserts that the material impacts of the disengagement must not be overlooked.
The economic situation is bleaker, and more unfortunate, as Gaza continues to depend on international aid.
Unless current donor levels are maintained, again, Gaza is likely to suffer from an ever-worsening economic outlook.
It also remarks that the international community has frequently preferred to donate money, rather than political capital, however, this approach will only ensure that the conflict remains unresolved.
The disengagement has not been easy for many Palestinians as the Gaza Strip has been divided into two separate parts by the closure of the Abu Houli checkpoint, and Palestinians living in the enclaves have had almost complete closure imposed upon them.
The Center emphasizes that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on international law and the principles of justice and equity and respect of human rights.
The negotiations must take place between two equal parties, each dealing with the other with respect and dignity.
In the end, it is only in this way that two equal states, operating with sufficient regard for each other, will be able to bequeath a future of peace and security to their children.