Over the past decade, the Palestinian Authority has poured considerable energy into branding itself internationally as a champion of human rights and a victim of Israeli human rights violations.
Among other things, after it was granted non-member observer state status by the United Nations General Assembly, the P.A. joined a host of international conventions pertaining to human rights, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Convention”). Its goal in signing these conventions was two-fold: Establish the P.A.’s status as a state and, more importantly, use them as a tool with which to bludgeon Israel.
The P.A.’s use of these international forums, however, is cynical and manipulative. The one thing it lacks is any real intention of respecting human rights and complying with international law. Anyone looking at the human rights situation in the P.A. will see an appalling reality, with torture in Palestinian prisons being just one example of its egregious violations of basic human rights. The situation for women, children, homosexuals and minority groups is even worse. According to Palestinian law, a husband is allowed to rape his wife. Women are forced to marry the rapist who impregnated them. Homosexuals are brutally persecuted and so-called “honor killings” are still prevalent. These and many other injustices are commonplace in the Palestinian Authority and are met with leniency by the governing authorities.
Particularly disturbing is the conspiracy of silence on the part of the international community, the media and international human rights groups on this issue. Not only do they perpetually turn a blind eye to these violations—which they definitely know about—they obsessively pin the blame on the “Israeli occupation.” Indeed, the issue of torture in Palestinian prisons is nothing new. As early as 2015, the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center filed a detailed complaint on the matter to the ICC.
Despite the complaint, the matter evaporated into thin air when the prosecutor announced the issues she was willing to investigate. The use of torture by the P.A. was not one of them. Topping her list of priorities were “crimes against humanity” perpetrated by Israel. From the perspective of other countries, the world would keep on spinning. The P.A. would continue its gross violations of human rights, continue receiving hundreds of millions of dollars annually, continue opening embassies and consulates across the globe as if it were a country and its leader Mahmoud Abbas would continue being greeted by honor guards on official visits. From the point of view of these international institutions, the hundreds of people murdered and tortured to death by the P.A. aren’t worth one Jamal Khashoggi.
This conspiracy of silence exposes the hypocrisy of the international community, the ICC, the press and human rights organizations. All are derelict in their duties and willing to sacrifice their principles on the altar of slandering Israel, so long as not one hair falls from the head of Mahmoud Abbas. For them, those disenfranchised, defenseless people in Palestinian society are just a minor inconvenience.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is an Israeli lawyer and the president of Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center. Her best-selling book “Harpoon: The Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters,” co-authored with Samuel Katz, has just been released in Hebrew.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.