An American lawyers' group renewed charges yesterday that Israel violates the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories of the Middle East.
A dissenting member of the group said its report was distorted, inaccurate and influenced by the Palestine Liberation Orgainization.
The 140-page report on Israeli practices was published by the National Lawyers' Guild, a 6,000-member association of lawyers who find the American Bar Association "reactionary," according to a spokesman.
The guild sent a 10-member group to Lebanon and Israel a year ago. The three-week trip was partly paid for by a "private individual" whom the group would not identify. While in Lebanon, the lawyers were guests of the PLO.
Their report accused Israel of a myriad of violations, nearly all of which have been reported in the past by groups ranging from Amnesty International to the State Department.
The investigating group did not visit any Israeli prisons in the occupied territories. Nor was it able to interview Israeli prison officials.
The lawyers said their investigation, mostly involving documents, found that Israel illegally established settlements in the occupied territories, expelled Palestinians from their homes and denied them due process in prosecuting them. The report charged that torture was sometimes used to extract confessions.
The rebuttal came from Howard Dickstein, who said he decided to prepare his "minority report" after deciding that the investigating group was biased.
He said the report was sloppily prepared. For example, the allegations of torture was based in part on interviews with five Palestinians who had been Israeli prisoners.
Dickstein said the report neglected to mention that the interviews took place at PLO headquarters, with men selected by the PLO, and in the presence of armed PLO guards.
Dickstein said he could not "exonerate Israel across the board." he said he felt Israel's settlements were illegal and that some of the expulsions violated international law.
But he said the guild charges failed to take into account the situation in the Middle East and the historical standards set by occuping powers. "Some of these arrests take place after terrorist explosions. It's a state of war, a national security alert," he said.