Hebron University Participates in the United Nations International Conference

Hebron University participated in the United Nations conference on the Question of Palestine that took place on 3 and 4 April 2012 at the UN Office in Geneva. The meeting discussed the “question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities: legal and political implications”.  Dr. Mutaz Qafisheh, Professor of International Law and Legal Clinic Supervisor at Hebron University presented a paper entitled “Political Prisoners in Peace Processes and Peace Agreements: the Case of Palestine/Israel vs. Namibia/South Africa”.

The meeting was attended by a Palestinian delegation that included the Minister of Prisoners Affairs, Prisoners Club, law professors and representatives of human rights non-governmental organizations; in addition to representatives of various UN member States. The meeting discussed the rights of Palestinian prisoners in light of Geneva conventions, human rights, and the ways to bring an end to the suffering of Palestinian prisoners, inhuman treatment, torture and humiliation.

The paper and presentation of Dr. Qafisheh showed that the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israel is identical to the way that South Africa had been treating Namibian political prisoners under the apartheid regime. Israel, like South Africa, is using discriminatory laws, allowing administrative detention without trial or charges. Israel did not adhere to its commitments that it reached with the Palestinians in the Oslo agreements and the Sharm El-Sheik understandings. It even did not respect the recent agreement that signed with the Palestinians regarding the release of prisoners in exchange with Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by re-arresting the freed prisoners. Israel is treating Palestinians as criminals, contrary to the prisoners of war status guaranteed by international norms and customs of war. It also detains Palestinian parliamentarians in an attempt to destroy Palestinian democracy, unity and institutions in order to prevent the establishment of the Palestinian State.

Dr. Qafisheh concluded that the apartheid system that Israel is imposing in Palestine by detention, imprisonment, settlements, walls, checkpoints, killing, discrimination; is worse than the apartheid of South Africa. Had the international community not intervened against the racist South Africa, the apartheid and occupation in Namibia would have continued until today. The UN General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council should take meaningful actions against Israel to force it to abide to its international obligations. The Palestinians should also expand their efforts in raising international awareness of the question of Palestinian political prisoners and ratify human rights conventions and Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute Israeli war criminals at the international court.