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U.S: Rights Not "Optional" in Israel/Palestinian Peace Process

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell should call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in his upcoming policy speech.

Secretary of State Powell told reporters this week that his speech Monday at the University of Louisville would be "a comprehensive statement of what the United States stands for." In a letter to Secretary Powell, Human Rights Watch said the U.S. needs to address the consistent failure of both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to stop security forces and civilians under their control from committing abuses. The U.S. should also urge both sides to conduct serious investigations into those abuses.

"Human rights are not something to raise when all disputes are settled," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "Without an end to the violations of basic rights and international humanitarian law that are fueling the current conflict, a durable peace settlement will be impossible to achieve."

Human Rights Watch also urged Secretary Powell to endorse the deployment of an international or "third-party" monitoring presence that includes persons trained to monitor compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

"Such a presence is essential in the absence of credible investigations by Israel or the PA into serious allegations of illegal killings," said Megally. "There is a need to confront the culture of impunity that now prevails."

A copy of the letter to Secretary Powell can be found here

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