Israel Has Established an 'Apartheid Regime'
Report breaks new ground on the UN's examination of
the situation in occupied Palestine by using the
By Ben White
A new United
Nations report accuses Israel of having established
"an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates
the Palestinian people as a whole".
publication comes amid renewed debate about whether,
through its settlement policy and rejection of
Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli
government is creating - or even has already created
- a de facto "one-state", which critics warn would
constitute a form of apartheid.
governments to "support boycott, divestment and
sanctions [BDS] activities and respond positively to
calls for such initiatives".
report - Israeli
Practices towards the Palestinian People and the
Question of Apartheid - was commissioned and
published by the UN Economic and Social Commission
for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in
Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National
University of Ireland, Maynooth, told Al Jazeera the
report "breaks new ground in the context of the UN's
analysis of the situation in Palestine".
was authored by two critics of Israeli state
practice: Virginia Tilley, professor of political
science at Southern Illinois University, and Richard
Falk, former UN special rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in the Palestinian territories, and
professor emeritus of international law at Princeton
Noting how "the expert consensus [is] that the
prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable
and was not rendered moot by the collapse of
apartheid in South Africa", the report argues that
Israel is "guilty
of policies and practices that constitute the crime
of apartheid", a "crime against humanity under
customary international law and the Rome Statute of
the International Criminal Court".
is a "detailed analysis of Israeli legislation,
policies and practices" that highlights how Israel
"operates an apartheid regime", including through
citizens of Israel are described as "subjected to
oppression on the basis of not being Jewish", it
Palestinians in East Jerusalem similarly experience
"discrimination in access to education, healthcare,
employment, residency and building rights", as well
as "expulsions and home demolitions".
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are
governed by "military law" alongside Jewish settlers
"governed by Israeli civil law", the report said.
refugees and exiles are "prohibited from returning
to their homes in Israel and the occupied
Palestinian territory" on the basis that they
"constitute a 'demographic threat' and that their
return would alter the demographic character of
well as urging governments to back
BDS, the report
recommends that the UN and its member states should
"revive the Special Committee against Apartheid, and
the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid
(1976-1991)", which would then "report
authoritatively on Israeli practices and policies
relating to the crime of apartheid".
also suggests an advisory opinion be sought from the
International Court of Justice "as to whether the
means used by Israel to maintain control over the
Palestinian people amount to the crime of
Keane, associate professor in law at Middlesex
University, said the new report differs from
previous ones on the subject because it "expressly
attaches the apartheid label".
was no immediate response from Israel to the report,
which could contribute to an already deteriorating relationship
between the government of Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and the United Nations.
authorities failed to respond to Al Jazeera's
request for a comment.
Palestinians and their allies, the report will help
to provide a solid basis for their work," Nadia
Hijab, executive director of al-Shabaka - The
Palestinian Policy Network - told Al Jazeera .
reputation and credibility of the authors, Hijab
described the report as "a clear, concise document"
whose recommendations are "timely and much needed".
White is a freelance journalist, writer and
activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel.
article was first published at
views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Information Clearing