Why The UN Branded israel An Apartheid State

Why The UN Branded Israel An Apartheid State

By Juan Cole

boycott israel apartheid palestine

Apparently the Trump administration at Israeli urging threatened to defund the UN if this report was not withdrawn. The UN Secretary-General caved, and the executive director of ESCWA (who was also an under-secretary general of the UN), Rima Khalaf, has resigned. The legal case built by the ESCWA report remains sound.

A shouting match has been provoked this week by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which issued a report this week concluding definitively that Israel is guilty of Apartheid practices toward the Palestinians. The report is careful to say that it is not using the term merely as a pejorative but is rather appealing to a body of international law with precise definitions, definitions that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians easily and transparently meet. Here’s the short blog version of the report, which runs to 76 pages.

Apartheid is a Dutch word meaning “apartness” and was used to describe the system of racial segregation deployed by the ruling Afrikaner minority in South Africa 1948-1991. In international law, however, it has been generalized to any government practicing systematic racial domination.

Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) defines it this way:

“The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

The 2002 Rome Statute, which has 150? signatories among the nations of the world, and which established the International Criminal Court, contained a definition of Apartheid.

“The crime of apartheid’ means inhumane acts . . . committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime…”

Apartheid is one of the listed “crimes against humanity” along with enslavement, torture, war rape, and forcible deportation. A crime against humanity is the systematic and continuous commission of war crimes.

Because of these international law instruments (the Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty), Apartheid now refers to a generalized crime, not just the policy of the old South African government.

As a result, the Court can under some circumstances charge individual politicians with the crime of Apartheid. Those circumstances are that

1) the country has signed the Rome Statute or

2) that the UN Security Council has forwarded the case of a war criminal to the ICC.

Neither of these circumstances fits Israel, since it is not a signatory and the US would veto any attempt to charge a major Israeli politician at the International Criminal Court. This inability to bring Israeli officials to the Hague, however, is merely procedural. As a matter of law, Israel can still be guilty of Apartheid practices.

The UN report is concerned with specific legal infractions as spelled out by international law, and with the intention behind those infractions. Intent to dominate another people is important to the definition of Apartheid.

The report points out that

“The Israel Lands Authority (ILA) manages State land, which accounts for 93 per cent of the land within the internationally recognized borders of Israel and is by law closed to use, development or ownership by non-Jews.”

Going back to the colonial Jewish National Fund, there has been a practice that once land is owned by Zionist institutions, including the Israeli state, it can never be sold to a non-Jew– it is permanently taken off the market on a racial basis.

The Law of Return is another discriminatory practice. Any Jew anywhere in the world can emigrate to Israel. But no Palestinian family expelled in 1948 can return to their ancestral homeland.

Jewish councils may reject applications for residence from Palestinian-Israelis. An Israeli Jew who married an American Christian is allowed to bring the spouse to Israel; but an Israeli Jew who married a West Bank Palestinian may not.

The report argues that in the Israel-Palestinian context, Palestinians are a “race.” I would add that the exclusion of Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens underlines this definition, since one characteristic of race is endogamy or marrying within the in-group.

Other UN decisions have recognized the Palestinians as a people entitled to self-determination (and indeed such recognition goes back to the correspondence of League of Nations states overseeing the British Mandate over Palestine in the 1920s).

The document says:

“This report finds that the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime. It first examines Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid how the history of war, partition, de jure and de facto annexation and prolonged occupation in Palestine has led to the Palestinian people being divided into different geographic regions administered by distinct sets of law. This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance.”

As for the specifics of Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank, the UN document observes that this territory is virtually a textbook case in Apartheid governance:

“Domain 3 is the system of military law imposed on approximately 4 .6 million Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestini an territory, 2 .7 million of them in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip. The territory is administered in a manner that fully meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for the provision on genocide, every illustrative “inhuman act” listed in the Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West Bank. Palestinians are governed by military law, while the approximately 350,000 Jewish settlers are governed by Israeli civil law. The racial character of this situation is further confirmed by the fact that all West Bank Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law on the basis of being Jewish, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. This dual legal system, problematic in itself, is indicative of an apartheid regime when coupled with the racially discriminatory management of land and development administered by Jewish – national institutions, which are charged with administering “State land” in the interest of the Jewish population.”

The Executive Summary is here.

 

israel’s Crime of Apartheid: Text of Resignation Letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf

Israel’s Crime of Apartheid: Text of Resignation Letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf

By Jadaliyya Reports

Rima Khalaf

[The following text is the resignation letter submitted by ESWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid. Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.]

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.

I am not oblivious to the vicious attacks and threats the UN and you personally were subjected to from powerful Member States as a result of the publication of the ESCWA report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. I do not find it surprising that such Member States, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices. It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims. I cannot submit to such pressure.

Not by virtue of my being an international official, but simply by virtue of being a decent human being, I believe, like you, in the universal values and principles that have always been the driving force for good in human history, and on which this organization of ours, the United Nations is founded. Like you, I believe that discrimination against anyone due to their religion, skin color, sex or ethnic origin is unacceptable, and that such discrimination cannot be rendered acceptable by the calculations of political expediency or power politics. I also believe people should not only have the freedom to speak truth to power, but they have the duty to do so.

In the space of two months you have instructed me to withdraw two reports produced by ESCWA, not due to any fault found in the reports and probably not because you disagreed with their content, but due to the political pressure by member states who gravely violate the rights of the people of the region.

You have seen first hand that the people of this region are going through a period of suffering unparalleled in their modern history; and that the overwhelming flood of catastrophes today is the result of a stream of injustices that were either ignored, plastered over, or openly endorsed by powerful governments inside and outside the region. Those same governments are the ones pressuring you to silence the voice of truth and the call for justice represented in these reports.

Given the above, I cannot but stand by the findings of ESCWA’s report that Israel has established an apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another. The evidence provided by this report drafted by renowned experts is overwhelming. Suffice it to say that none of those who attacked the report had a word to say about its content. I feel it my duty to shed light on the legally inadmissible and morally indefensible fact that an apartheid regime still exists in the 21st century rather than suppressing the evidence. In saying this I claim no moral superiority nor ownership of a more prescient vision. My position might be informed by a lifetime of experiencing the dire consequences of blocking peaceful channels to addressing people’s grievances in our region.

After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw yet another well-researched, well-documented UN work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience. I know that I have only two more weeks to serve; my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations.

Respectfully
Rima Khalaf

“Israel maintains a regime of apartheid over Palestinians” 

“Israel maintains a regime of apartheid over Palestinians” — UN report

Report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) 2017
Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue №1
Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

UN group cowers to Israeli & US complaints – takes down report finding Israel guilty of apartheid

United Nations

“The report concludes that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity, the prohibition of which is considered jus cogens in international customary law.”

This report was commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from authors Mr Richard Falk and Ms Virginia Tiley.

This report examines, based on key instruments of international law, whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Having established that the crime of apartheid has universal application, that the question of the status of the Palestinians as a people is settled in law, and that the crime of apartheid should be considered at the level of the State, the report sets out to demonstrate how Israel has imposed such a system on the Palestinians in order to maintain the domination of one racial group over others.

A history of war, annexation and expulsions, as well as a series of practices, has left the Palestinian people fragmented into four distinct population groups, three of them (citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem and the populace under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) living under direct Israeli rule and the remainder, refugees and involuntary exiles, living beyond. This fragmentation, coupled with the application of discrete bodies of law to those groups, lie at the heart of the apartheid regime. They serve to enfeeble opposition to it and to veil its very existence. This report concludes, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, and urges swift action to oppose and end it.


Executive Summary

This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.

The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.

Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).

The legal approach to the matter of apartheid adopted by this report should not be confused with usage of the term in popular discourse as an expression of opprobrium. Seeing apartheid as discrete acts and practices (such as the “apartheid wall”), a phenomenon generated by anonymous structural conditions like capitalism (“economic apartheid”), or private social behaviour on the part of certain racial groups towards others (social racism) may have its place in certain contexts. However, this report anchors its definition of apartheid in international law, which carries with it responsibilities for States, as specified in international instruments.

The choice of evidence is guided by the Apartheid Convention, which sets forth that the crime of apartheid consists of discrete inhuman acts, but that such acts acquire the status of crimes against humanity only if they intentionally serve the core purpose of racial domination. The Rome Statute specifies in its definition the presence of an “institutionalized regime” serving the “intention” of racial domination. Since “purpose” and “intention” lie at the core of both definitions, this report examines factors ostensibly separate from the Palestinian dimension — especially, the doctrine of Jewish statehood as expressed in law and the design of Israeli State institutions — to establish beyond doubt the presence of such a core purpose.

That the Israeli regime is designed for this core purpose was found to be evident in the body of laws, only some of which are discussed in the report for reasons of scope. One prominent example is land policy. The Israeli Basic Law (Constitution) mandates that land held by the State of Israel, the Israeli Development Authority or the Jewish National Fund shall not be transferred in any manner, placing its management permanently under their authority. The State Property Law of 1951 provides for the reversion of property (including land) to the State in any area “in which the law of the State of Israel applies”. The Israel Lands Authority (ILA) manages State land, which accounts for 93 per cent of the land within the internationally recognized borders of Israel and is by law closed to use, development or ownership by non-Jews. Those laws reflect the concept of “public purpose” as expressed in the Basic Law. Such laws may be changed by Knesset vote, but the Basic Law: Knesset prohibits any political party from challenging that public purpose. Effectively, Israeli law renders opposition to racial domination illegal.

Demographic engineering is another area of policy serving the purpose of maintaining Israel as a Jewish State. Most well known is Israeli law conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country. The World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency are vested with legal authority as agencies of the State of Israel to facilitate Jewish immigration and preferentially serve the interests of Jewish citizens in matters ranging from land use to public development planning and other matters deemed vital to Jewish statehood. Some laws involving demographic engineering are expressed in coded language, such as those that allow Jewish councils to reject applications for residence from Palestinian citizens. Israeli law normally allows spouses of Israeli citizens to relocate to Israel but uniquely prohibits this option in the case of Palestinians from the occupied territory or beyond. On a far larger scale, it is a matter of Israeli policy to reject the return of any Palestinian refugees and exiles (totalling some six million people) to territory under Israeli control.

Two additional attributes of a systematic regime of racial domination must be present to qualify the regime as an instance of apartheid. The first involves the identification of the oppressed persons as belonging to a specific “racial group”. This report accepts the definition of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. On that basis, this report argues that in the geopolitical context of Palestine, Jews and Palestinians can be considered “racial groups”. Furthermore, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is cited expressly in the Apartheid Convention.

The second attribute is the boundary and character of the group or groups involved. The status of the Palestinians as a people entitled to exercise the right of self determination has been legally settled, most authoritatively by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 advisory opinion on Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. On that basis, the report examines the treatment by Israel of the Palestinian people as a whole, considering the distinct circumstances of geographic and juridical fragmentation of the Palestinian people as a condition imposed by Israel. (Annex II addresses the issue of a proper identification of the “country” responsible for the denial of Palestinian rights under international law.)

This report finds that the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime. It first examines how the history of war, partition, de jure and de facto annexation and prolonged occupation in Palestine has led to the Palestinian people being divided into different geographic regions administered by distinct sets of law. This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance. Different methods are deployed depending on where Palestinians live. This is the core means by which Israel enforces apartheid and at the same time impedes international recognition of how the system works as a complementary whole to comprise an apartheid regime.

Since 1967, Palestinians as a people have lived in what the report refers to as four “domains”, in which the fragments of the Palestinian population are ostensibly treated differently but share in common the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime. Those domains are:

1. Civil law, with special restrictions, governing Palestinians who live as citizens of Israel;

2. Permanent residency law governing Palestinians living in the city of Jerusalem;

3. Military law governing Palestinians, including those in refugee camps, living since 1967 under conditions of belligerent occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;

4. Policy to preclude the return of Palestinians, whether refugees or exiles, living outside territory under Israel’s control.

Domain 1 embraces about 1.7 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. For the first 20 years of the country’s existence, they lived under martial law and to this day are subjected to oppression on the basis of not being Jewish. That policy of domination manifests itself in inferior services, restrictive zoning laws and limited budget allocations made to Palestinian communities; in restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities; and in the mostly segregated landscape in which Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel live. Palestinian political parties can campaign for minor reforms and better budgets, but are legally prohibited by the Basic Law from challenging legislation maintaining the racial regime. The policy is reinforced by the implications of the distinction made in Israel between “citizenship” (ezrahut) and “nationality” (le’um): all Israeli citizens enjoy the former, but only Jews enjoy the latter. “National” rights in Israeli law signify Jewish-national rights. The struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel for equality and civil reforms under Israeli law is thus isolated by the regime from that of Palestinians elsewhere.

Domain 2 covers the approximately 300,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, who experience discrimination in access to education, health care, employment, residency and building rights. They also suffer from expulsions and home demolitions, which serve the Israeli policy of “demographic balance” in favour of Jewish residents. East Jerusalem Palestinians are classified as permanent residents, which places them in a separate category designed to prevent their demographic and, importantly, electoral weight being added to that of Palestinians citizens in Israel. As permanent residents, they have no legal standing to challenge Israeli law. Moreover, openly identifying with Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory politically carries the risk of expulsion to the West Bank and loss of the right even to visit Jerusalem. Thus, the urban epicentre of Palestinian political life is caught inside a legal bubble that curtails its inhabitants’ capacity to oppose the apartheid regime lawfully.

Domain 3 is the system of military law imposed on approximately 6.6 million Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestinian territory, 4.7 million of them in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip. The territory is administered in a manner that fully meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for the provision on genocide, every illustrative “inhuman act” listed in the Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West Bank. Palestinians are governed by military law, while the approximately 350,000 Jewish settlers are governed by Israeli civil law. The racial character of this situation is further confirmed by the fact that all West Bank Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law on the basis of being Jewish, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. This dual legal system, problematic in itself, is indicative of an apartheid regime when coupled with the racially discriminatory management of land and development administered by Jewish-national institutions, which are charged with administering “State land” in the interest of the Jewish population. In support of the overall findings of this report, annex I sets out in more detail the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory that constitute violations of article II of the Apartheid Convention.

Domain 4 refers to the millions of Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles, most of whom live in neighbouring countries. They are prohibited from returning to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel defends its rejection of the Palestinians’ return in frankly racist language: it is alleged that Palestinians constitute a “demographic threat” and that their return would alter the demographic character of Israel to the point of eliminating it as a Jewish State. The refusal of the right of return plays an essential role in the apartheid regime by ensuring that the Palestinian population in Mandate Palestine does not grow to a point that would threaten Israeli military control of the territory and/or provide the demographic leverage for Palestinian citizens of Israel to demand (and obtain) full democratic rights, thereby eliminating the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Although domain 4 is confined to policies denying Palestinians their right of repatriation under international law, it is treated in this report as integral to the system of oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole, given its crucial role in demographic terms in maintaining the apartheid regime.

This report finds that, taken together, the four domains constitute one comprehensive regime developed for the purpose of ensuring the enduring domination over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control in whatever category. To some degree, the differences in treatment accorded to Palestinians have been provisionally treated as valid by the United Nations, in the absence of an assessment of whether they constitute a form of apartheid. In the light of this report’s findings, this long-standing fragmented international approach may require review.

In the interests of fairness and completeness, the report examines several counterarguments advanced by Israel and supporters of its policies denying the applicability of the Apartheid Convention to the case of Israel-Palestine. They include claims that: the determination of Israel to remain a Jewish State is consistent with practices of other States, such as France; Israel does not owe Palestinian non-citizens equal treatment with Jews precisely because they are not citizens; and Israeli treatment of the Palestinians reflects no “purpose” or “intent” to dominate, but rather is a temporary state of affairs imposed on Israel by the realities of ongoing conflict and security requirements. The report shows that none of those arguments stands up to examination. A further claim that Israel cannot be considered culpable for crimes of apartheid because Palestinian citizens of Israel have voting rights rests on two errors of legal interpretation: an overly literal comparison with South African apartheid policy and detachment of the question of voting rights from other laws, especially provisions of the Basic Law that prohibit political parties from challenging the Jewish, and hence racial, character of the State.

The report concludes that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity, the prohibition of which is considered jus cogens in international customary law. The international community, especially the United Nations and its agencies, and Member States, have a legal obligation to act within the limits of their capabilities to prevent and punish instances of apartheid that are responsibly brought to their attention. More specifically, States have a collective duty: (a) not to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful; (b) not to aid or assist a State in maintaining an apartheid regime; and © to cooperate with the United Nations and other States in bringing apartheid regimes to an end. Civil society institutions and individuals also have a moral and political duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise, and to exert pressure on Israel in order to persuade it to dismantle apartheid structures in compliance with international law. The report ends with general and specific recommendations to the United Nations, national Governments, and civil society and private actors on actions they should take in view of the finding that Israel maintains a regime of apartheid in its exercise of control over the Palestinian people.


The original report was deleted from the UN website. Alternative source here

The full report: (download pdf here)

Related Video

UK facing court battle over right to BDS

UK facing court battle over right to BDS

Foreign minister Boris (The clown) Johnson promoted economic ties in Jerusalem last week. (Israeli Goverment Press Office)

A court challenge against British restrictions on the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is going ahead, according to human rights campaigners.

The British government had undertaken to prevent local councils from using pension policies to protest against the arms trade and repressive regimes, particularly Israel.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is seeking a judicial review of the British government’s policies. The campaigners have been informed by a judge that the review can proceed “as soon as possible” after 1 April.

The campaigners are seeking to overturn changes to the rules on local authority pension schemes, announced by the British government in October 2015.

The Conservative government also published guidance in February last year that was intended to discourage the use of BDS tactics.

Publicly-funded bodies were told these amounted to a “BDS ban” – although closer reading of the text revealed this not to be the case.

But in June 2016, the first case to cite the “ban” failed in the British high court. The case – led by anti-Palestinian lawyers – targeted decisions by a number of local councils to support the BDS movement.

Attack on protest

The government tried to justify the October 2015 pension measures, claiming they aimed at stopping the “growing spread of militant divestment campaigns against UK defense and Israeli firms.”

But speaking to The Financial Times, one top pension official accused the government of “ridiculous nannying”

He said that “the government should stop sticking its nose in. If a democratically elected council body wishes to pursue an investment strategy with money generated by council taxpayers, they should be able to.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said the judge had agreed the case was of “significant public importance.”

Ben Jamal, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s director, said the guidance on pension schemes “represents a wider attack on people’s rights to protest about Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, including via the promotion of the peaceful campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

The legal fight is being supported by War on War and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

The UK government’s increasingly open defense of Israel comes in the context of growing Israeli-backed efforts to restrict BDS activities across the world.

In the US, there has been a wave of laws aimed at punishing and silencing activists. But campaigners and human rights lawyers have fought back, often successfully drawing on constitutional protections to free speech.

USA upset that UN accused israel of apartheid. It’s like accusing Pope of being a Catholic

US Demands UN Pull Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid

Envoy Nikki Haley says Washington outraged by publication; Sec-Gen Guterres distances self from it; Israel slams it as ‘despicable’

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them.

Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

The report published Wednesday, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” says that “available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.”

UN confirms that a boycott (#BDS) of israel is justified due to their apartheid regime

Landmark UN report backs Israel boycott

15 March 2017

New UN report concludes that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole” and calls for broad support of boycott movement.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler ActiveStills

A new UN report offers explicit backing for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to end Israeli apartheid and support a just peace.

The landmark report’s endorsement of boycotts, economic sanctions and other grassroots initiatives comes at a moment when Israel is desperately attempting to criminalize and suppress international support for Palestinian rights.

Published by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the report concludes that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

It finds “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid” as defined in international law.

It urges national governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives.”

Racial regime

The UN report – “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” – is not a comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa, but an evaluation of Israel’s practices against the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and other key human rights laws.

The convention defines the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

International law defines racial discrimination to mean “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or ethnic or national origin,” the report notes.

The Zionist movement’s “claim to Palestine as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people rests on an expressly racial conception of both groups,” the report states. “This means that Jews and Palestinians are ‘racial groups’ ” for the purposes of applying the apartheid convention.

“The mission of preserving Israel as a Jewish state has inspired or even compelled Israel to pursue several general racial policies,” the report says.

These include “demographic engineering, in order to establish and maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel.”

This encompasses the ethnic cleansing of almost 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, the denial of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and “a range of other policies designed to restrict the size of the Palestinian population.”

Although they can vote, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel – about a fifth of the state’s citizens – are also systematically restricted, while full rights are granted only to Jews.

Meanwhile, Israel’s discriminatory “Law of Return” automatically grants citizenship to Jews from anywhere in the world, “while denying citizenship even to those Palestinians who have a documented history of residency in the country.”

Sham democracy

“As in any racial democracy,” the report argues, “such a majority allows the trappings of democracy – democratic elections, a strong legislature – without threatening any loss of hegemony by the dominant racial group.”

In a stark illustration of the racial logic espoused by Israel’s leadership, the country’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman this week reiterated the view that the Jewish state should eventually be ethnically cleansed of virtually all Palestinians.

“There is no reason why Sheikh Raed Salah, Ayman Odeh, Basel Ghattas or Haneen Zoabi should continue to be Israeli citizens,” he said in reference to prominent Palestinian politicians, three of them members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Israel prohibits anyone from using its ostensibly democratic system to challenge the regime’s fundamentally racist set-up. Its Basic Law – the closest thing that Israel has to a written constitution – bars parties from running on a platform that explicitly or implicitly includes “negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

“Voting rights lose their significance in terms of equal rights when a racial group is legally banned from challenging laws that perpetuate inequality,” the report states. “Israeli law bans organized Palestinian opposition to Jewish domination, rendering it illegal and even seditious.”

This is not the first analysis to find that Israeli policies meet the legal definition of apartheid: a 2009 study by South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council concluded that Israel practices apartheid in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But the new UN study goes much further, finding that Israel’s apartheid system dominates the entire Palestinian people. It concludes that the “strategic fragmentation” of the Palestinian people into separate territorial units and legal regimes – as citizens with limited rights within Israel, as stateless persons in the West Bank and Gaza, as “permanent residents” in East Jerusalem, or as refugees and exiles with no right of return – “is the principle method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.”

The 2009 study was overseen by political scientist Virginia Tilley. Tilley and the eminent professor of international law Richard Falk are co-authors of the new UN report.

Ending a “criminal enterprise”

Governments have a legal obligation to act immediately to end the crime of apartheid. This includes refusing to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful, refusing to aid a state in maintaining such a regime and cooperating with UN bodies and other states to end it.

The report urges UN bodies to act, and even suggests seeking a formal opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s apartheid system. National governments should also back BDS and allow “criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid.”

But given that states and official bodies are not likely to take the lead, the report recognizes that “civil society institutions and individuals have a moral duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise.”

They must use these tools to “exert pressure on Israel to dismantle apartheid structures and negotiate in good faith for a lasting peace that acknowledges the rights of Palestinians under international law and makes it possible for the two peoples to live together on the basis of real equality.”

Transnational movement

Recalling an earlier era, the report notes that research and legal analyses by UN bodies – such as the United Nations Center Against Apartheid – were critical resources for civil society activists in their efforts aimed at “legitimating boycott, divestments and sanctions, and contributing to the overall formation of a transnational movement against apartheid in South Africa.”

One of the report’s key aims today is to encourage “practical measures in accordance with international law to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime.”

“Efforts should be made to broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors,” the report recommends.

Private sector firms should be “reminded of their legal, moral and political responsibility to sever ties with commercial ventures and projects that directly or indirectly aid and abet the apartheid regime.”

All of this confirms the reasoning and tactics of the Palestinian-led BDS movement – support for which even the staunchly pro-Israel European Union has belatedly recognized as a democratic right.

 

It’s official, israel is on the road to fascism

First a flashback to the 60’s …. There was a joke circulating that went something like this … An American and a Soviet were having a discussion. The American said “I live in a Democracy, I can call President Kennedy a bastard and nothing will happen to me”. The Soviet responded, “I too live in a Democracy, I can also call President Kennedy a bastard and nothing will happen to me”.

Now, a look at ‘The Only Democracy in the Middle East” ….

U.S.-born Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was held after leading a tour of the E1 area across the road from the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Police Detain Prominent Israeli Activist for Alleged Possession of BDS Material
Yotam Berger

Police detained prominent left-wing activist Jeff Halper last Wednesday at the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had “materials related to BDS” in his possession.

Halper, who moved to Israel from the United States in 1973, was picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement and transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.

Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma’aleh Adumim.

“It’s a good place to show them this context of where Ma’aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It’s a regular stop on our tours, this wasn’t the first time I was taking a group to this spot,” Halper said.

After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but “as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material.”

“Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus,” Halper said.

Halper was questioned about the material he had.

“They didn’t tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped and asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.

“We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS for BDS, it’s something that I use. I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It’s not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.

“They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me,” Halper said.

Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.

In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:
“There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed.”
Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is “incitement” but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.

Jeff Halper from his Facebook page. Credit Facebook

Also this weekend ….

British pro-BDS activist barred from entering Israel

Week after Knesset passes law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts, ex-chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign Hugh Lanning denied entry

Full report HERE

Israel is quickly getting there …

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