Israel is not a democracy, but it is an „apartheid regime“ that imposes Jewish sovereignty over all the lands it controls, as a leading local human rights group claimed in a position paper that would spark violent controversy.
B’Tselem, an organization that documents human rights violations, said: „One of the organizational principles lies at the basis of a wide range of Israeli policies: promoting and perpetuating the sovereignty of one group – the Jews – over another – the Palestinians.“
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in the United Kingdom, Ohad Zemit, rejected the report, describing it as a „propaganda tool“. He added, „Israel rejects the false allegations in the so-called report because they are not based on reality, but on a distorted ideological point of view.“
B’Tselem said it rejects the prevailing assumption that Israel is running two separate systems of government simultaneously – a democracy within its sovereign territory while maintaining military control over the Palestinians in the occupied territories for half a century.
„Israel is not a democracy with a temporary occupation,“ said Haji El-Ad, executive director of the organization. „It is one system between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the complete picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.“
These areas include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which were occupied by Israel from Jordanian forces in the 1967 war, and the Gaza Strip, which it occupied from Egypt in the same conflict, where its army remained until 2005.
The shift in perception of allegations of apartheid is part of an activist-led movement that has gained momentum in its wake Threats of Israeli annexation They claim that the occupation is permanent and modern Laws that enshrined additional political rights for Jews over Arabs.
Another Israeli human rights organization, Yesh Din, Publish a legal opinion Last summer I argued that apartheid was being committed in the West Bank.
However, the B’Tselem report goes further, claiming that Israel has established a system over all territories in which Jewish citizens enjoy full rights. Meanwhile, the report says the Palestinians are divided into four levels with different levels of rights depending on where they live, but always less than the Jewish people.
At a minimum, the report notes that there are approximately two million Palestinians in the extremely impoverished Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, but is surrounded by Israel under a policy that B’Tselem says gives it „effective control.“
B’Tselem said that on top of them are approximately 2.7 million Palestinian „subjects“ in the West Bank, living in „dozens of separate enclaves, under strict military rule and without political rights.“
Under agreements signed in the 1990s, Palestinians in the West Bank enjoy limited autonomy, although B’Tselem said that the Palestinian Authority „remains subordinate to Israel and can only exercise its limited powers with Israel’s consent.“
Next in the hierarchy are the approximately 350,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem. Israel offered citizenship to these residents, although many refused in principle, and for those who try, the The process has a high rejection rate.
At the highest level in B’Tselem there are Palestinian citizens of Israel, also called Israeli Arabs, who hold full citizenship and make up about one-fifth of Israelis. However, B’Tselem said that they are also still excluded from Jewish citizens, noting Discrimination on the groundAnd the Immigration laws that favor Jews, And a The law that grants the Jewish people additional political rights.
In response, Zimit, the Israeli diplomat, said that all Israeli citizens have full rights, and that Arabs are “represented in all branches of government – in the Israeli parliament, in the courts (including the Supreme Court), in the public service, and even in the diplomatic corps where They represent the State of Israel throughout the world. „
In 2017, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia became the first United Nations body They accuse Israel of apartheidA crime under international law, a move of a former Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Similar to Nazi propaganda. The United Nations leadership did not endorse the publication of the report, which came later Removal From their website.
Last year, after the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he intended to annex parts of the West Bank, 47A experts He warned that „it will be a crystallization of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same place, ruled by the same state, but with significantly unequal rights.“
They added, „This is a vision of racial discrimination in the twenty-first century.“
Netanyahu He suspended his ambitions to annex. However, several Israeli and Palestinian rights groups, including B’Tselem, argue that Israel is already imposing a „de facto“ annexation of the West Bank, with more than 400,000 Jewish settlers living there and enjoying the same rights and many of the same services, as other Israelis.
• This article was amended on January 12, 2021, to add text clarifying that the 2017 UN report accusing Israel of the apartheid regime was not supported by the leadership of the commission and was later removed from the UN website.
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