Through a system of racial segregation and discrimination, Israel has been carrying out an “apartheid regime” against Palestinian populations, according to a new report released by the United Nations.
The report by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA, found that “on the basis of overwhelming evidence ... Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid,” which “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The main way that Israel carries out its apartheid system is through “strategic fragmentation” whereby Palestinians are split into four different oppressed 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,” the ESCWA said.
Rima Khalaf, ESCWA secretary-general, said the report shows that Israel is a “racist state” as she expressed hope that the report would spur action and end apartheid as opposed to merely highlight the problem.
While states played an important role in condemning Israeli apartheid, civil society, activists, the media and the private sector were all seen as important actors who could help shift public opinion, call on sanctions and boycott commercial activities that eventually “aid and abet the apartheid regime.”
The report looked at the definition of apartheid through the lens of international law, stemming heavily from the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Apartheid. Others, however, have also condemned the state of Israel for political and economic apartheid.
Israeli authorities are yet to comment on the report, but previously criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has led to counter claims of anti-Semitism. The authors of the report noted how Israel commonly uses anti-Semitism in a “new guise” by claiming that critics are intent on “destroying Israel’s image and isolating it as a pariah state.”