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Negotiations Must Adhere to International Law
Ref.: 28/2012
01، Feb 2012

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
United Nations Secretary-General
760 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Negotiations Must Adhere to International Law

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Ban-Ki-MoonThe Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations (PCHRO) would like to welcome you to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We wish to take the opportunity of your visit to bring to your attention some of our concerns. Chief amongst these is the fact that negotiations are being encouraged by the international community, including the United Nations (UN), while Israel continues to violate international law on a daily basis.

As you are well aware, the Palestinian territory has been subjected to military occupation for nearly 45 years. During this time, no less than 25 plans and proposals have been put forward with the aim of ending the occupation. In spite of such a long history of political dialogue the realisation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination is as distant as ever.

The expropriation of land for the construction of settlements has continued without any accountability, resulting in the constant growth of the Israeli settler population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Concurrently, more and more of the protected Palestinian population are facing forcible transfer and are denied fundamental rights such as water, health and education, all in breach of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Instead of fulfilling their legal obligations to discourage Israel’s violations of international law, the international political community, including the Quartet, is condoning an existing illegal situation and advocating the formalisation of such violations by calling for a peace agreement based on the illegal exchange of territory. This is in spite of the fact that Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits agreements resulting from the imbalance of power between the authorities of the occupied territory and the Occupying Power.

Unfortunately, the recent negotiations offered very little genuine hope of resolution, since, like previous attempts, they were conducted while violations of international law were being committed by the Occupying Power. Once again, these ostensible peace talks prioritised political expediency at the expense of justice and the rule of law. Instead, prolonged negotiations have created the illusion of a working process while allowing Israel to implement its colonial policies.

The practice of overlooking international law in favour of political motivation is particularly damning when viewed in light of the raison d’être of the UN. Article 1 of the UN Charter establishes that the role of the UN is “to maintain international peace and security, in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.” However, these principles of law are currently being sidelined. This approach has been tried and tested without success and we are no closer to a just and lasting peace today than we were 40 years ago.

The UN Human Rights system, as well as the various resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council have repeatedly condemned the unlawful situation arising from the prolonged occupation of the OPT and have called for Israel to respect international law and put an end to all violations. Should the Quartet not also adhere to these same principles and demand that respect for international law be the pre-requisite of negotiations? Otherwise, UN participation in the Quartet is inconsistent with its commitment to the tenets of international law and justice.

As Palestinian civil society organisations, we trust that your commitment “to encourage both sides to engage in earnest and create a positive atmosphere for moving forward” will result in international law forming the foundation of any future negotiations.

Yours sincerely,


Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
General Director

Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish
General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh
General Director

Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj
General Director

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti
General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa
General Director