PICTURED: A screen capture taken from an embedded video in a HRW official tweet.
A report from Human Rights Watch has determined that Israel has committed the crimes of establishing a systemic apartheid state.
They also determined they were guilty of the crime against humanity of persecution as they are understood by both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The report was based on 2 years of investigation and included official government planning documents, statements and interviews, land records, and more.
“On the basis of its research, Human Rights Watch concludes that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT (occupied Palestinian territories). In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid,” explain the authors of the report.
The Israeli government dismissed the charges as lies, saying that Palestinians enjoy full civil rights, that Gaza is a hostile entity run by Hamas, and that they consider the West Bank to be disputed territory subject to a peace negotiation that collapsed years ago.
Earlier last year the ICC launched a probe to examine evidence of war crimes in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, which also drew swift condemnation from both the Israeli President and their supporters in the U.S. State Department.
The HRW report is just the latest, then, in a series of investigations into the practice of Israeli occupation, settlement, domination, apartheid, or whichever term a media or political figure determines to use at any given time.
One such media figure tended towards the latter, when Israeli human rights watchdog B’Tselem and their director Hagai El-Ad, described Israel recently in a similar report as “apartheid between the river and the sea.”
“We are not saying that the degree of discrimination that a Palestinian has to endure is the same if one is a citizen of the state of Israel or if one is besieged in Gaza,” El-Ad said. “The point is that there isn’t a single square inch between the river and the sea in which a Palestinian and a Jew are equal”.
A call to action
HRW says its findings should serve as a “call to action,” the kind that perhaps could give countries worried of facing the ire of Israel’s powerful guarantors something concrete to base policy decisions around.
The report says this powerful western block of countries “overlooks the deeply entrenched nature of Israeli discrimination and repression of Palestinians there [and] minimizes serious human rights abuses by treating them as temporary symptoms of the occupation that the ‘peace process’ will soon cure”.
On Tuesday HRW’s executive director Kenneth Ross stated in line with this finding that “much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution”.
The report’s recommendations avoid the mud pit of a two-state solution, and essentially call on Israel to dissolve any legal or systemic imbalances in the rights of the Israelis and those of the Palestinians. This is in line with many prominent Palestinian activists, like Ramzy Baroud, who insists that the OPT were annexed long ago, and that they never should have been referred to as “occupied”.
To Israel they recommend dismantling all forms of systematic oppression and discrimination that privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, fully respect the human rights of Palestinians, including those in the OPT, cease construction and expansion of settlements, dismantle existing settlements, and bring Israeli citizens inhabiting the OPT back into Israel’s internationally recognized borders, end all travel restrictions, housing restrictions, the abolishing of a number of laws deemed as persecutory, and perhaps most importantly, ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC.
The latter is the most important because without ratification, their findings or verdicts have no legal authority in the nation, and with the continued unerring support of much of the western world, including the president of the United States, who has many times over his long career described himself as a Zionist, it’s unlikely that any apartheid dismantling will occur without change on a revolutionary scale.