Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid believes that, while many Palestinians don’t view terrorism as a solution to the conflict with Israel, the Palestinian Authority does.
“I was in Ramallah…when this incident happened,” said Eid of the June 8 attacks at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv that killed four and injured 13. “Opinion was divided. Some said they supported it, but others said they are totally against it. The majority of the Palestinians don’t believe such kind of terror will solve the conflict.”
Eid spoke with NJJN via phone and e-mail from Jerusalem, where he is founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.
On Friday, June 24, he will speak at Shabbat services at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick in a program cosponsored by the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs.
Eid remains gloomy about the prospects for bringing terrorism under control while the PA is supporting it and President Mahmoud Abbas is paying salaries to the terrorists’ families.
Eid was among the first researchers working with B’Tselem, the group that bills itself as “The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.”
He initially founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996 to focus on Israeli abuses of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, but gradually shifted to the abuses committed by the Palestinian Authority.
“I spent 26 years of my life researching violations of human rights,” said Eid. “This mandate gave me huge popularity among the Palestinians. And what I am doing now is because I became a very realistic person looking to the evidence on the ground.”
In shifting his focus, he said, he “lost the trust of the Arab/Muslim leadership and the Palestinian leadership.”
His view of the obstacles to peace has led Eid to one conclusion: “If the Arabs are not going to realize the existence of Israel as a legitimate state, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be solved. The answer is to live in peace and democracy, side by side with Israel.”
Also a journalist, Eid has received threats and lost standing because his writings and activism have exposed corruption and human rights abuses in the PA and the lies he claims are being spread by Israel’s enemies. He has also taken a stand opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Eid is a resident of eastern Jerusalem with an Israeli identity card, meaning he is a legal Israeli resident but is considered a Jordanian citizen.
“Despite what we tell ourselves, Israel is here to stay,” he said. “What’s more, it has a right to exist. It is the nation of the Jews but also a nation for Israeli Arabs who have better lives than Arabs anywhere in Arab countries. We must accept these facts and move on. The anti-Semitism promoted by Hamas, Fatah, and the BDS movement is not the answer for us Palestinians.”
The push for a lasting peace is also being hampered by the deep splits within the Palestinian leadership.
“There are divisions between Gaza and the West Bank,” said Eid. “There is no goodwill between Fatah and Hamas to approach any kind of unity. It proves what I used to say in the past — that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is looking more like a three-state solution. Right now I don’t think anybody can do anything about these divisions.”
Although he said he believes the Palestinian state needs “builders,” currently there are only “destroyers,” and Eid used Gaza, from which Israel disengaged in 2005, as an example.
“I think the only ones who can push the two-state solution are the Israelis and Palestinians,” said Eid, adding, “I think the U.S. administration failed to create any bridges of trust between the Israelis and Palestinians.”