JERUSALEM (AP) – A major Israeli human rights group has begun to describe control of Israel and the Palestinian territories as a single “apartheid” regime, using an explosive term that the country’s leaders and their supporters heroically Reject.
In a report released on Tuesday, B’Tselem says Palestinians occupying various forms of Israeli control in the West Bank, they blocked Gaza, within East Jerusalem and Israel itself, the entire region between the Mediterranean They have fewer rights than Jews. Sea and Jordan River.
“One of the main points in our analysis is that it is a single geopolitical region governed by a government,” said Hagai El-Aid, director of B ‘Tales. “This is not democracy and business. This is the apartheid between the river and the sea. “
A respected Israeli organization has long been seen in the debate by many critics of Israel, even pointing to a broader shift in debate as the hegemony over the lands conquered in the war and the two states Let’s hope for a solution.
A prominent Jewish-American critic of Israel, Peter Beart, created a similar stir last year. When he came to favor a single binary state with equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. B’Tselem does not take a position whether there should be a state or two.
Israel has long presented itself as a thriving democracy, in which Palestinian citizens, who comprise about 20% of the population of 9.2 million, have equal rights. In the 1967 war, Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip – land for about 5 million Palestinians and those who want Palestine for a future state.
Israel withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but was blocked two years later after militant Hamas groups seized power there. It considers the West Bank a “disputed” territory whose fate should be determined in peace negotiations. In 1967 Israel did not recognize East Jerusalem internationally and considered the entire city as its unified capital. Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem are Israeli “residents”, but not citizens with voting rights.
B’Tselem argues that by dividing territories and using different means of control, Israel faces the underlying reality – that around 7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians live with vast unequal rights under the same system .
“We are not saying that the discrimination a Palestinian has to endure is the same if one is a citizen of the state of Israel or if someone is surrounded in Gaza,” El-Aid said. “The point is that there is not a square inch between the river and the sea in which a Palestinian and a Jew are the same.”
Israel’s harshest critics have used the term “apartheid” for decades, creating a system of white rule and racial segregation in South Africa, which was abolished in 1994. The International Criminal Court has defined apartheid as “an institutionalized rule of systematic oppression and domination”. By a racial group. ”
“There is no country in the world that is clearer in its policies of apartheid than Israel,” said Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “It is a state based on racist rulings aimed at seizing land, expelling indigenous people, demolishing homes and establishing settlements.”
In recent years, as Israel has extended its rule over the West Bank, Israeli writers have been disillusioned with former generals and politicians who have opposed its right-wing government Has rapidly adopted the term.
But until now B’Tselem, founded in 1989, used it only in specific contexts.
Israel declined the term, saying that the sanctions imposed in Gaza and the West Bank are temporary measures needed for security. Most Palestinians in the West Bank live in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority, but those areas are surrounded by Israeli outposts and Israeli troops can enter at any time. Israel has total control over 60% of the West Bank.
Ite Milner, a spokesman for Israel’s consulate in New York, dismissed B’Salem’s report as “another tool for him to promote his political agenda”, which he said “on a distorted ideological outlook Was based. ” He said that the Arab citizens of Israel are represented by the government, including the diplomatic corps.
Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Cohlet Policy Forum, says the Palestinians have their own government, which calls any apartheid “inappropriate”, calling the B Tate’s report “extremely weak, dishonest and misleading”. ‘Told.
Palestinian leaders agreed to the current regional division in Oslo accent in the 1990s, and the Palestinian Authority is recognized as a state by dozens of countries. Under apartheid, says Kantorovich, is a far cry from territories designated for Black South Africans – known as Buntustans – whereby many Palestinians compare territories ruled by the PA.
Kontorovich stated that the term “apartheid” was used to show Israel in a way that “resonates with racial sensitivity and debate in America and the West.”
Alon Pincus, a former Israeli general in New York, dismissed the term. “Yes Yes. Other than that, of course not. “
But he admitted that Israeli critics who avoided using the term, or who used it and were attacked, “would now easily say, ‘Hey, you know, Israel is saying itself Huh.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, which estimates its reach to more than 1.5 million people in 850 congregations in North America, is an “ethical vision” and “occupation” in the West Bank and Gaza. But not apartheid.
“This happens to many people in the international community, so Israel has no right to exist,” he said. “If the charge is apartheid, it is not just a strong criticism, it is an existential criticism.”
L-Add points to two recent developments that changed B’Tussel’s thinking.
The first was a controversial law passed in 2018 that defines Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”. Critics say it upgraded Israel’s Palestinian minority to second-class citizenship and faced widespread discrimination since Israel’s founding in 1948. Proponents say it recognizes Israel’s Jewish character and similar laws can be found in many Western countries.
Second Israel announced 2019 with the intention of canceling one-third of the occupied West Bank, including its Jewish settlements, which are home to about 500,000 Israelis. Those plans were halted last year under a normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates, but Israel has said the stagnation is only temporary.
B’Tselem and other rights groups argue that the borders separating Israel and the West Bank disappeared long ago – at least for Israeli residents, who can travel back and forth freely, while their Palestinian neighbors require permits to enter Israel.
No peace talks have been held in more than a decade. The occupation, which critics have long warned is not permanent, has been permanent for 53 years.
“Over fifty years, is it not enough to understand the stability of Israeli control over the occupied territories?” L-Aid said. “We think people need to wake up to reality, and stop talking about something in the future that has already happened.”