* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *
9 July 2001 MDE 15/064/2001 116/01

(London and New York, July 6, 2001) Two leading independent human rights organizations today called for the urgent deployment of international observers to monitor Israeli and Palestinian human rights and humanitarian law violations.

In an open letter, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to declare their readiness to cooperate with such an initiative, and asked the United States, the European Union and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to take steps to facilitate the establishment and deployment of such a force.

"We completely agree with the Mitchell Committee's conclusion that peace and security must be built on respect for international law and the protection of human rights," said the two human rights organizations. "Independent observation of what is happening on the ground is essential, and only the international community can provide this."

The joint letter pointed out that the joint Israeli-Palestinian security committees have not been able to address these recurrent human rights and humanitarian law violations on their own. It went on to suggest that the international monitoring mechanism should report to Israeli and Palestinian security officials, but should also issue regular public reports, at least monthly, that would note what steps the parties had taken to correct policies and actions responsible for the violations.

"An initiative of this sort is long overdue," the two human rights organizations added. "We call on those states whose influence in the region is greatest to help see that it happens.

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