chapter  6
The Palestinians
ByTheéodore H MacDonald
Pages 22

The Madrid peace conference followed the Gulf War. A year later, secret Israeli-Palestinian talks began in Oslo, Norway, culminating in the September 1993 Declaration of Principles on interim Palestinian self-government, signed by Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Palestinian protests following Sharon’s visit to al-Haram al-Sharif were spearheaded by Islamists and students – the sectors of the population among whom Arafat enjoys the least influence. Palestinians – both militiamen and some policemen given arms by Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements – resisted the offensives with force, particularly during pitched battles in Nablus and Jenin. It is important to note that all settlements in the Occupied Territories violate international law and continuously infringe on Palestinian human rights. Lucy Mair, one of the Human Rights Watch observers, pointed out that when the Palestinians’ own criminal justice system is confronted with violations of the human rights of girls or women, it is often more interested in avoiding community scandal than in mediating justice.