Terrorism Must Cease to Define Palestinian Struggle
Freedom House views with grave concern Palestinian terrorism being waged against Israel, and the apparent failure of the Palestinian Authority to pursue and encourage peaceful and civic-based protest.
"The use of terrorism against innocent Israelis has tragically come to dominate the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Faced with a choice only between Islamist extremism and a stagnant, authoritarian political structure, Palestinians are afforded very little space for peaceful expression of grievances," said Adrian Karatnycky, president of Freedom House.
Freedom House calls upon Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to publicly and forcefully renounce terrorism and take firm steps to rein in fanatical Palestinian Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the terrorist elements within his own secular Fatah organization. He must make clear that non-violent protest is the best and only way to end conflict with Israel and to ensure a transition to a democratic and free Palestine.
In its latest annual survey, Freedom in the World, Freedom House rates the Palestinian Authority "Not Free." People living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority do not enjoy basic rights and freedoms such as a freedom of expression or assembly. Rule-of-law is largely non-existent. The severe restrictions imposed by the PA have left many Palestinians without adequate outlets through which to pursue their political, social, and economic goals. Hatred of Israel is fostered and encouraged through official Palestinian media, resulting in the deflection of public criticism of the PA. The ground, therefore, is fertile for terrorism.
"Palestinian terrorism against Israel is no different than that waged against the United States on September 11th. It cannot be regarded as a legitimate means of forcing political change," said Mr. Karatnycky. "Peaceful, civic-based protest has resulted in fruitful democratic revolutions throughout the world, most recently in Serbia. Palestinians must be given the chance to pursue a similar path. Now, more than ever, fundamental reform of the Palestinian political structure is essential," he said.
Freedom House, a non-partisan, nongovernmental organization, monitors political rights and civil liberties worldwide.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.