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Amnesty joins HRW and Israel’s B’Tselem in declaring Israel an apartheid state

25th Feb 2022
Amnesty joins HRW and Israel’s B’Tselem in declaring Israel an apartheid state

A checkpoint in the Israeli Barrier in the West Bank, near Abu Dis. (Credit: Justin McIntosh/WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Israeli practices of oppression and dominion over Palestinians meet the international definition of apartheid, Amnesty International has ruled in a report published on February 2.

With the release of the report compiled over four years, Amnesty joins Human Rights Watch and Israel’s B’Tselem in accusing Israel of apartheid — both within its borders and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Amnesty’s damning investigation of Israeli law lists a range of abuses, including extensive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, administrative detention and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians.

The report, titled Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel Systems of Domination and Crime against Humanity, also points to discriminatory policies within Israel and in annexed East Jerusalem, Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007, and its de facto annexation of the West Bank, where dual systems of rights and legal administrations exist for Palestinians and Jewish settlers, and where Israel exerts overall control and is actively building and expanding Jewish settlements that are illegal under international law.

Amnesty called on the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, as well as “targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid”.

The findings of the report sparked outrage from Israeli politicians, who called for its retraction.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, called the report “divorced from reality”, saying: “Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organisations.” He also accused Amnesty of antisemitism. “I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” Lapid said.

The US also dismissed the view that Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians constitute apartheid. Speaking during a news briefing on February 1, US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said “We don’t offer our own public comprehensive evaluations of reports, (…) but we certainly reject the label that has been attached to this.”

Price seemed particularly reluctant as AP news agency correspondent Matt Lee asked him why “criticism of Israel by this group (Amnesty) is almost always rejected by the US, and yet it is accepted, welcomed and endorsed when the criticism is of other countries”.

The report was welcomed, however, by the Palestinian Authority, which said it hoped it would pave the way for the prosecution of Israel at the international criminal court.

“The State of Palestine welcomes the report by Amnesty International on Israel’s apartheid regime and racist policies and practices against the Palestinian people,” the Authority’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Amnesty called on “the USA, the European Union and its member states and the UK, but also those states that are in the process of strengthening their ties – such as some Arab and African states [to] recognise that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid and other international crimes”.

It asked countries to “use all political and diplomatic tools to ensure Israeli authorities implement the recommendations outlined in this report and review any cooperation and activities with Israel to ensure that these do not contribute to maintaining the system of apartheid.”

“Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights,” Amnesty’s Secretary-General, Agnès Callamard, said while introducing the report, as she rejected claims of antisemitism.

“Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid.”

A year ago, B’Tselem drew criticism from Israeli politicians when it asserted that Israeli policies had enforced “Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch in April last year became the first significant international rights group to publicly level the allegation of apartheid, part of a growing international movement to call for international action against Israel.

Those efforts have gained strength in the decade since the peace process ground to a halt, as Israel has consolidated its control over the occupied territories and soured on the idea of a Palestinian state.

* Israeli PM, Naftali Bennett, said last month that as long he was Prime Minister, there will be no Palestinian state. “There is no Palestinian state as long as I am the prime minister of Israel,” he said.

When No 10 Spokesman was asked for a response to this statement, he said, “I have not seen those specific comments. We continue to advocate for a two-state solution and our position has not changed.” When he was further asked when would UK Prime Minister UK recognise a Palestinian state, the

Spokesman responded, “We continue to advocate for a two-state solution and beyond that I have nothing to add.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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