UPDATE 09. March 2021: Israel’s ‘Green Passport’ vaccination program has created a ‘medical Apartheid,’ distraught citizens say
UPDATE 06. February 2021: ICC ruling - a game-changer for Israel. Israeli officers from now on better think twice about obeying orders to destroy Palestinian homes.
UPDATE 24. January 2021: Israeli health minister says not country’s job to give vaccine to Palestinians in occupied territory
UPDATE 21. January 2021: Biden Must Face the Facts: Israel Is an Apartheid Regime - The leading Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has now joined others in making that claim and issued a position paper—one that will be difficult for the Biden administration to ignore or dismiss.
UPDATE 21. January 2021: The Separate Regimes Delusion - Nathan Thrall on Israel’s apartheid
UPDATE 17. January 2021: Not ‘Apartheid in the West Bank’ - It's Apartheid
UPDATE 14. January 2020: Israel is losing the fight to obscure its apartheid character
UPDATE 12. January 2021: A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid
ICYMI: Israel imposes 'apartheid regime' on Palestinians: U.N. report
Israel declared itself to be an Apartheid State:
By Moon of Alabama - 19. July 2018
The Knesset passed early Thursday a controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people," with 62 lawmakers voting in favor of the legislation and 55 opposing it.
The nation-state law also includes clauses stating that a "united Jerusalem" is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language. Another says that "the state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation."
The new law has constitutional status:
The bill, which has the status of a basic law (approximately the same as a constitutional law in countries with a written constitution), was passed overnight to Thursday with 62 votes in favor and 55 against after hours of fierce argument and debate. It will now come into force as soon as it's published in the Knesset's Official Gazette.
In a clause that set Arab lawmakers off, the bill explicitly states that "the right to exercises national determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people."
The law stipulates segregation:
part of the law [is] aimed at promoting the "establishment and consolidation" of Jewish settlements
Israel has never defined its borders. It has illegally taken ownership of all public land in the occupied West Bank. This land is then exclusively granted to Zionist settlers:
Over five decades in control of the West Bank, Israel has marked out hundreds of thousands of acres as public land, and it has allocated almost half of them for use.
But only 400 of those acres — 0.24 percent of the total allocated so far — have been earmarked for the use of Palestinians, according to official data obtained recently by an anti-settlement group after a freedom of information request. Palestinians make up about 88 percent of the West Bank’s population.
The group, Peace Now, said the other 99.76 percent of the land went to help Israeli settlements.
MAP: DISPLAY bigger
The Arab population of Israel and the occupied territories is as big as the Jewish population. The allocation of "public" land stolen from the indigenous Arab population solely to Jewish immigrants was already one of many clearly discriminating apartheid issues. It was in contradiction even to Israeli law. Now the creation of solely Jewish settlements is required by constitutional mandate. The blatantly illegal creation and expansion of solely Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land is now rationalized as requirement of basic law. Muslim and Christian Palestinians now have to pay taxes for their own expropriation.
Is there a Buddhist people, a Catholic people? Do they deserve their own nation and land? No. Even the though of such is weird. Are Jews originating from Ethiopia, India, Lithuania, Iran and Poland a common race? Why then is there supposed to be a 'Jewish people' as the new law stipulates?
It is historically crazy that a number of humans, living in dozens of mostly east-European countries, would suddenly define themselves as a unique 'race' by virtue of believing in the same religious fairy tales. The concept mirrored and enabled the racism of the fascists. The self declared ethnicity then laid claim on far away land in west-Asia based on old stories of temples for which there is little to no archeologic evidences.
Primarily Great Britain, France and the United States, furthered and support this ethnocratic, colonialist, undemocratic, imperialist, and genocidal scheme to their own advantage.
It is high time to end this illegal and immoral aberration.
Israel’s ‘Green Passport’ vaccination program has created a ‘medical Apartheid,’ distraught citizens say
The Israeli government announced a number of new rules on March 6 in a statement released jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation
By Celeste McGovern - 09. March 2021
Israel has rapidly deteriorated into a segregated culture that discriminates against people who have not received experimental COVID-19 vaccinations, say Israeli citizens who are reaching out for help on media platforms.
“It’s very intense over here in Israel. I don’t know how much you see,” said Ilana Rachel Daniel in a video posted March 3rd on Bit Chute. “It’s terrible. It’s a very, very, very frightening situation.”
“They’re making this green passport where half the population cannot get into theaters or malls or all sorts of things unless you have taken the vaccination. They are creating a medical Apartheid,” Daniel said.
Part of a program dubbed Operation Back to Life , the “Green Pass” system restricts entry to registered gyms, theaters, hotels, restaurants, universities and secondary schools to holders of scannable vaccine passport only.
“This is the first step back to an almost normal life,” Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said at a briefing about the program which began rolling out last week.
The Israeli government announced a number of new rules on March 6 in a statement released jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation. The government paper will be in effect until the next government review on March 20.
Students in Grades 7 to 10 were to be allowed to return to classes this week in jurisdictions where 70% of the population over age 50 had been vaccinated.
Universities and other educational institutions were to open for in-person classes as of Sunday to green pass holders only. Those who have not been vaccinated will be permitted to attend online classes only.
Restaurants are to allow vaccinated green pass holders the right to eat indoors, while non-vaccinated people are allowed to eat outside only.
Violators of the government order are to be fined 5000 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) which is about $1,500 USD.
Israeli students have been required to have COVID vaccine injections to allow them to sit their end of high school matriculation exams, according to a BBC report in January. Matriculation exam results can affect whether or not they go to university and their placement in the compulsory military service.
The passport is delivered by a government-run website which issues a green certificate featuring a high-security scannable QR code by text, email or regular mail delivery, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.
People in Israel are expected to present their green passport for scanning along with personal identification before entering registered businesses.
The government statement issued Saturday said that the prohibition on the entry of Israelis by air to the country is cancelled (land crossings remain in place), allowing Israeli citizens and permanent residents to enter Israel.
“Those holding vaccination or recovery certificates will be able to exit Israel freely,” however, the statement adds.
Earlier in the month, Edelstein told the public that “vaccines won't be mandatory, but anyone who forges a vaccine certificate will go to jail.”
The Israeli Health Minister has also said that soon employers will be required to have their staff vaccinated, or to undergo coronavirus testing every 48 hours.
Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination drive has been the fastest in the world where 10% of the population received experimental vaccines between December 19 and the end of 2020, and 50% of the country’s nine million residents had received at least one COVID vaccine shot by February 26, according to a statement by Health Minister Edelstein.
“I agreed with my friend, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, that we would bring shipment after shipment and complete the vaccination of the over-16 population in Israel during March,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on January 10.
Pfizer’s Bourla canceled a scheduled trip to Israel because he has not received his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday. The CEO said he did not want to “cut in line” for his company’s injection and has delayed his visit to the country where he is looking at establishing a manufacturing site.
On February 24th the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing the government to share the names, addresses and phone numbers of people who had not received a COVID vaccine with other authorities in the ministries of education and welfare.
“They’re making people wear an ankle bracelet, a security bracelet when they come back from travelling,” said Daniel who is affiliated with the Rapeh party. “It’s absolutely insane.”
People are being offered electronic security ankle bracelets, similar to those worn by prisoners, to monitor their whereabouts after they travel outside of Israel instead of being forced to house in quarantine facilities, The Jerusalem Post reported February 25th.
“We call it a ‘freedom bracelet’ because we are not locking anybody up, but rather giving them the opportunity to go home,” Ordan Trabelsi, president and CEO of SuperCom, the company behind the surveillance system told the paper.
“They’re censoring us and attacking us and they won’t allow any media. Nothing. They took away the head of the party’s medical license,” said Ilana Rachel Daniel. Daniel is affiliated with the Israeli political party, Rapeh, which means “heal” in English.
The Rapeh Party was founded by medical doctor Aryeh Avni whose medical license was revoked by Israel’s Health Ministry on February 24th when a judge ruled he was “a ‘stumbling block,’ whose behavior poses a real danger to public safety and health.”
“They removed our platforms from Facebook and now they won’t let the media even write about us. So we want to ask all the international [inaudible] – anywhere we can get – to publicize what we are saying.”
“If I stop to think about it I will cry you know,” said Daniel, who can be heard breaking down in tears. “We just keep fighting you know, fighting as much as we can.
“We need everybody’s help because whatever happens here will happen everywhere,” she said. “So, we’re fighting for ourselves and we’re fighting for the whole world. We need to help…every hand on deck.” Daniel has since recorded an hour-long interview with British journalist James Delingpole.
In another video, posted on the Facebook page Radiant Israel on February 18, Israeli Gilad Rosinger described the green passport system as a “pre-holocaust agenda.”
“If you do not submit to this wicked, demonic, tyrannical agenda, if you choose to say, ‘you know what, I’m not ready to participate in this experimental program,’ then you are now considered a second class citizen in Israel,” Rosinger said.
“My grandfather was the only survivor out of his whole family of the Holocaust and this is exactly how it started. With discrimination, with essential and non-essential businesses, with people saying that Jews are second class citizens,” he said.
“Well, now it’s not about Jew, it’s not about Arab, it’s not about that. No, it’s about who will take the vaccination,” Rosinger said. “If you don’t do it, you’re wicked, you’re evil, you’re a second-class citizen.”
High level Israeli government officials are talking about sending police to the homes of unvaccinated people and demanding that their names be released, Rosinger said.
Despite its aggressive vaccination campaign, Israel enforced a strict third national lockdown on January 7, 2021 following a surge of new COVID cases. Israeli media reported that 4,500 people were diagnosed with COVID after receiving a first coronavirus vaccine, and that of those 375 were hospitalized.
Calling the new Israeli society a “Twilight zone” that is being “cheered on” by mainstream media, he added that many people are afraid to speak out.
“We need to sound the alarm,” said Rosinger. “Where are the international human rights courts on this? Where are the lawsuits? Where is the outrage? You don’t even have to believe in God to know that this is wrong.”
“Israel, unfortunately has been used as a prototype for the nations because if it succeeds here it’s coming to a town near you, it’s coming to a country near you. It’s coming to your town,” Rosinger said. “That’s why you have to care.”
ICC ruling - a game-changer for Israel
The ruling by the International Criminal Court is a game-changer. From now on, Israeli Army soldiers and officers had better think twice about obeying orders to destroy Palestinian homes.
By Gush Shalom - 06. Februar 2021
The judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague ruled unequivocally that the court has full authority to hear and decide on Palestinian complaints of violations of International Law by the State of Israel and its army. Thereby, the rules of the game have fundamentally changed.
To date, the only judicial authority authorized to hear cases relating to acts by the Israeli Army in the Occupied Territories had been the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. In spite of prolonged wild incitement waged by Israeli right-wing circles against the Supreme Court and its judges, in practice the Supreme Court was and remains extremely forgiving towards the occupation army, rejecting the vast majority of appeals lodged by Palestinians.
When it comes to the judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it's a completely different matter. The Hague Court is bound by the provisions of International Law, specifically by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which sets out in detail what an occupying state is allowed - and what it is forbidden - to do in a territory under the military rule of its army. Many of the acts that the IDF routinely undertakes in the territories under its rule may turn out to be serious violations of International Law.
For example: Just a few days ago, on the morning of Monday, February 1, a large military force arrived in the tiny village of Hamsa al-Fouka in the northern Jordan Valley. The soldiers destroyed dozens of residential buildings and sheep pens, leaving 85 Palestinian residents - 45 of them children - homeless and exposed in the open air. The soldiers also demanded that the residents completely leave Hamsa al-Fouka and move to another location that the army would determine for them, threatening that if they did not leave voluntarily, they would be forcibly transferred by the army.
This act of destruction and devastation carried out by the army - and it is certainly not the first of its kind - has gone virtually unnoticed by the Israeli public and political system. Knesset Members who habitually engage in loud and vociferous debates failed to take up this issue. But make no mistake: outside the borders of the State of Israel, there are those who constantly monitor and closely record such acts.
At the International Court, indictments can certainly be filed against IDF officers and settlers as well as against officials and ministers in the Government of Israel. Among other things, acts of wanton destruction – carried out especially against small and highly vulnerable Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills - can certainly lead to the filing of indictments against everybody involved.
From now on, IDF officers should think twice about obeying an order to participate in such acts of destruction, and risk serious consequences. Officers who nevertheless decide to continue participating in these acts of destruction had better make an effort to keep their identities secret, constantly wear masks regardless of the Kovid-19 situation, and in general start acting like law-breakers evading law enforcement - because that is exactly what their legal status is about to become.
Decision-makers in the State of Israel have been well aware in recent weeks that the decision of the judges in The Hague was imminent, and that President Trump - who tried to intimidate the International Court by series of blatant threats - is no longer in the White House. It is surprising that in such a situation the decision-makers continued to order soldiers and officers to go on destroying of Palestinian homes, when knowing that those who carry out such orders may have to pay a heavy price.
Defense Minister Gantz should look up from his clashes with the Prime Minister and his party's precarious electoral situation, and think about the consequences of the Hague judges' decision – the consequences for himself personally, both regarding his former position as Army Chief of Staff and his present one as Defense Minister, and the changing judicial situation of the soldiers and officers for whom he is responsible as being in charge of Israel’s military system. .
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-(0)54-2340749
“As far as vaccination is concerned, I think it is Israel’s obligation first and foremost to its citizens,” he told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. “They pay taxes for that, don’t they?
“But having said that, I do remember that it is our interest – not our legal obligation, but our interest – to make sure Palestinians get the vaccine, that we don’t have Covid-19 spreading,” he added.
While Israel has given jabs to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, none of the nearly 5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, where impoverished healthcare systems are under strain due to the soaring caseload during the pandemic, have been offered vaccinations.
The country’s officials have vehemently denied accusations of discrimination and have in the past blamed the Palestinian Authority (PA) for not seeking cooperation with the Israeli government to procure and distribute vaccines to Palestinian healthcare workers.
Israel’s deputy health minister, Yoav Kisch, earlier this month said the country may consider offering any vaccine surplus to the PA at a later stage.
Pushed to respond to the fact that the United Nations (UN) has said Israel has a responsibility to provide vaccines to Palestinians under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Mr Edelstein pointed to the Oslo Accords, asserting: “It says loud and clear that Palestinians have to take care of their own health.”
This is an argument that some Israeli commentators – and now, the health minister – have used to justify the differential treatment of Palestinians, with an key part of the accords determining that the PA would assume responsibility for healthcare, including vaccinations.
However, the UN has said the Oslo Accords must be interpreted and followed under international law and ultimately, the responsibility for health services “remains with the occupying power until the occupation has come to an end”.
When pressed on the UN’s assertions, Mr Edelstein continued to defend the Israeli government’s actions, adding: “If it is the responsibility of the Israeli health ministry to take care of the Palestinians, what exactly is the responsibility of the Palestinian health minister – to take care of the dolphins in the Mediterranean?”
In a statement released earlier this month, UN experts called on Israel to extend its vaccination programme to Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, where an already under-resourced Palestinian health care system has been struggling under the weight of the pandemic.
“We understand that Palestinians with resident status in occupied East Jerusalem have been offered the vaccines by Israel,” the UN human rights experts said. “However, Israel has not ensured that Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza will have any near-future access to the available vaccines.”
Noting that available information suggested that Covid-19 vaccines may not be delivered en masse to the West Bank and Gaza for many weeks, the experts said: “This means that more than 4.5 million Palestinians will remain unprotected and exposed to Covid-19, while Israeli citizens living near and among them – including the Israeli settler population – will be vaccinated.
“Morally and legally, this differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century is unacceptable.”
A number of other non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international, have also called for Israel to extend its vaccination programme to Palestinians in occupied areas.
Palestine, which is part of WHO’s Covax programme to vaccinate people in low and middle-income nations, is likely to face several more weeks of waiting before doses of any vaccine are delivered.
In a position paper released January 12, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem broke with its own tradition and stated unambiguously that the area comprising Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip is an apartheid regime of Jewish supremacy.
The significance of this paper cannot be overstated. B’Tselem’s status as a leading human rights organization is unassailable (disclosure: I opened B’Tselem’s office in Washington in 2008 and worked for the organization for over two years). B’Tselem’s research is used by other human rights organizations and governments, including the United States, in developing reports on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
B’Tselem has, since its inception in 1989, focused exclusively on the West Bank and Gaza, allowing other groups to address issues of discrimination within Israel’s internationally recognized borders, or to comment on Israel’s actions in other countries, such as Lebanon or Syria. One of the effects of that laser focus was to reinforce the view of a democratic Israel that was engaged in a military occupation, with attendant violations of international law and human rights norms.
This new paper marks a sharp break with that long-held stance. B’Tselem makes it clear, stating, “The Israeli regime, which controls all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, seeks to advance and cement Jewish supremacy throughout the entire area. To that end, it has divided the area into several units, each with a different set of rights for Palestinians—always inferior to the rights of Jews. As part of this policy, Palestinians are denied many rights, including the right to self-determination.”
As B’Tselem’s statement stresses, the definition of apartheid is not limited to the actions of the South African regime from which the term derives. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “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.”
Although it has been tendentiously argued by some defenders of Israel that neither Palestinians nor Israelis constitute a “racial group,” the United Nations has defined 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.”
Within the narrow confines of the West Bank, conditions clearly fit the definition of apartheid under international law, and they have since Israel began transferring its citizens there, setting up two separate and unequal legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians. But B’Tselem goes further, and takes the view, long espoused by many Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists, that functionally there are degrees of discrimination, but discrimination happens throughout the area under Israeli control.
B’Tselem makes a strong case, one that will be a difficult for the Biden administration to ignore. The organization’s reputation, and its identity as an Israeli rights group, will make it more difficult for American leaders to dismiss the group’s characterization.
Nonetheless, it is likely that Biden’s first inclination will be to ignore this change. There will certainly be attacks on both B’Tselem’s position and the organization itself, both within Israel and in the United States. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past publicly attacked B’Tselem, and his ambassador to the United Nations called B’Tselem’s Executive Director Hagai El Ad a “collaborator” in response to El Ad’s testimony before that body in 2018. Such attacks are sure to be harsher now, and they will likely be echoed by Israel’s supporters in the United States, supporters who are very much a bipartisan group.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both have personal attachments to Israel, as they have often pointed out. But their support is based, at least in part, on the image of Israel as a liberal democracy, a country of laws, and one that they see as comparable to their view of the United States, a flawed but liberal country struggling toward a more inclusive, less racist society.
But many supporters of Palestinian rights see a very different Israel, especially today. Many of those who welcome B’Tselem’s new position are also saying, with some frustration, that they have been waiting for many years for such an obvious truth to be spoken by Israeli human rights activists. These groups include Palestinian human rights groups such as al-Haq, the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Badil and others, as well as Israeli groups such as Adalah and Yesh Din.
B’Tselem explained why it decided to take this step now: “Recent years have seen a rise in the motivation and willingness of Israeli officials and institutions to enshrine Jewish supremacy in law and openly state their intentions. The enactment of Basic Law: Israel—the Nation State of the Jewish People and the declared plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank have shattered the façade Israel worked for years to maintain.”
That shattered facade is something Biden and Harris are going to have to come to terms with, regardless of the pressure they will feel to continue defending Israeli policies, both from Israel advocacy groups and from within their own hearts. Thanks to B’Tselem, they will have to reckon with the reality that the country they and many of their supporters have admired for a long time has been labeled an apartheid state by the human rights community of its own citizenry.
Biden could try to dismiss B’Tselem as a “fringe group” or as a bunch of radicals who aren’t representative of the Israeli people. Certainly, most of the Jewish population of Israel would not agree with B’Tselem’s characterization of their country. But he will have to explain why the US State Department relied for so many years on B’Tselem reports for its annual human rights evaluation of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He’ll have to explain why B’Tselem is seen the world over as a fair arbiter of human rights, and is respected by the United Nations and many other world bodies, and why it has long been seen as a credible source in the United States despite years of attacks by right-wing forces.
Advocates for Palestinian rights should keep this statement front and center in the eyes of Biden, Harris, and incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Republicans and many Democrats will try to dismiss B’Tselem’s position paper simply by saying that Israel is a democracy and cannot be called an apartheid state. But if US progressives defend the apartheid label placed on Israel by Israel’s own leading human rights organization, US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians can begin to move toward one based on equal rights for all the people in that conflicted area.
Biden need not support B’Tselem’s conclusion, but he will have to accept that the group has the facts on its side. Whether he faces Netanyahu or a new, likely even more nationalistic prime minister, he must use B’Tselem’s declaration to make Israel’s government recognize that the apartheid label is going to stick as long as Israel continues to control millions of Palestinians and deny them their basic civil and human rights. Biden must make it clear to Netanyahu that if it wants to assure continued American support, Israel must not merely protest the use of the term apartheid, but must change its policies so the term is no longer applicable.
Mitchell Plitnick(www.rethinkingforeignpolicy.org) is the author, with Marc Lamont Hill, of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics, due out on February 16. He is an analyst, speaker, and writer. Twitter
Biden - "I Am a Zionist. You Dont Have To Be Jewish To Be A Zionist"
The Separate Regimes Delusion
Nathan Thrall on Israel’s apartheid
Last April , Haaretz ran a statement warning the Israeli government against formally annexing its settlements in the occupied West Bank. Opinion polls showed that the public didn’t care much about the issue, but political elites were debating it fiercely. Both proponents and opponents of annexation claimed that the future of Israel and Zionism was at stake. The statement argued that ‘annexation would mean a fatal blow to the possibility of peace and would be the establishment of an apartheid state.’ It was signed by 56 former members of the Knesset, among them former ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, finance and more than a dozen other departments, as well as former ambassadors, generals in the Israeli army, chairs of political parties, a head of the semi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel, a former speaker of the Knesset, and a winner of the Israel Prize. The signatories included not just members of Israeli left factions but two dozen from centrist and centre-left parties, and even a former justice minister, Meir Sheetrit, of the right-wing Likud Party.
The following week the two largest parties in the Knesset – Likud and the centrist Blue and White, which together commanded a parliamentary majority – signed an agreement to form a coalition government that could apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank no sooner than 1 July, after Israel and the United States had finalised annexation maps. These maps, detailed versions of the ones in Donald Trump’s ‘peace plan’, called for Israel to annex 30 per cent of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians a ‘state’ made up of several discontiguous cantons entirely surrounded by Israeli territory. The Trump plan also proposed rescinding the citizenship of around a quarter of a million Palestinian citizens of Israel by transferring ten Israeli towns to the jurisdiction of the future Palestinian state. By the end of the week, Israel’s Labor Party, the originator of the settlement enterprise, agreed to join the new government and vote in favour of annexation.
Much of the Israeli press misinterpreted the agreement between Likud and Blue and White. Reporters treated 1 July not as the earliest day that annexation could take place but as a deadline, creating a sense of urgency around the move. In the days after the coalition agreement was signed, liberal Zionist groups issued their battle cries. Their reasons for opposing annexation were telling. Concern for human rights was often secondary to the harm annexation might do to Israel. They warned that it would damage the perception of Israel as a democracy. They urged Israelis not to give impetus to campaigns promoting boycotts or the reduction of economic and military aid, and cautioned that annexation would only widen the divide between Israel and the Jewish diaspora. And they brandished the spectre most feared by the Zionist left: that Israel will eventually be forced to give citizenship to all Palestinians living under its control – there are nearly five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, all without Israeli citizenship, and roughly 360,000 in annexed East Jerusalem, more than 90 per cent of whom have permanent residency but not citizenship or the right to vote in national elections – thereby ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, with all the privileges that entails for Jews. (In 2018, an Israeli army official reported that Palestinians outnumbered Jews in the territory between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean.) ‘Whether annexing one settlement or all of them,’ the liberal Zionist group Peace Now asserted, ‘such a move would constitute the foundation to an apartheid state. Annexation is bad for Israel.’ J Street, a Washington-based lobbying group aligned with the Democrats, stated: ‘As pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans, we believe that annexation would severely imperil Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, along with the future of the US-Israel relationship.’
Many of the arguments against annexation conceded that the territory was already de facto annexed and would remain in Israel’s possession. Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition and chair of the centrist Yesh Atid party, contended that formal annexation wasn’t necessary because the largest area in question, the Jordan Valley, which makes up more than a quarter of the West Bank and ensures the full Israeli encirclement of the Palestinian population, ‘is now part of Israel. It’s not like somebody is threatening to take it away from us.’ Amos Gilad, until 2017 one of the most senior officials in the Ministry of Defence, said that Israel’s permanent control over the Jordan Valley would be better achieved by increasing Jewish settlement rather than a ‘purely declarative’ annexation: ‘The government could take measures to ensure that the Jordan Valley becomes home to tens of thousands of Israelis, and not just several thousand.’ The mainstream debate, then, was not whether but how to entrench Israel’s acquisition of West Bank territory.
Critics had trouble articulating a persuasive reason for Israel not to formalise an annexation that had, in practice, already taken place. A typically contorted attempt was a report published by Israel’s leading national security think tank, INSS, a centre-left institution that supports a two-state solution. The paper began by arguing that unilateral annexation was a terrible mistake. It concluded, however, that Israel should nevertheless proceed once annexation had won public support, which would come once the Palestinians rejected Trump’s peace plan. The danger of annexation, the INSS argued, was that it might
undermine [Israel’s] founding vision as a Jewish, democratic, secure and moral state that seeks peace with its neighbours. It is therefore recommended that the new government in Israel call on the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table, with the Trump plan included in the terms of reference for negotiations. If the Palestinians continue to refuse to discuss the plan, then the government will be able to receive public support in Israel for steps toward unilateral separation from the Palestinians, including gradual annexation conducted in a way that ensures that Israel’s political, security, economic and social interests are met.
Yair Golan, a former deputy chief of staff of the army and current representative of Meretz, the most left-leaning Zionist party in Israel, said he would vote in favour of annexation ‘if the Israeli government declares that its supreme goal is to separate from the Palestinians’.
Palestinians were almost entirely absent from the debate on annexation. The questions of whether they would get a state, what territory and powers it would have, whether they would be granted citizenship, residency or some other status in the annexed territory, what rights they would or would not be given and which of them would be stripped of their Israeli citizenship were being decided solely by coalition negotiations between two Zionist parties. Yet even the fiercest critics of annexation – those who warned that it would turn Israel into an apartheid state – described Israel as a functioning democracy that was merely at risk of some day ceasing to be one. According to this logic, as long as Israel refrains from formalising annexation, it may indefinitely withhold civil rights from millions of Palestinians while offering every form of support to Israelis in the occupied territory: infrastructure for Israeli cities, towns and industrial zones in the West Bank; nature reserves; municipal buildings; police and fire stations; government schools and play areas; state medical facilities; cemeteries. As long as Israel declares that the absorption of the West Bank is temporary, it will continue to be considered a democracy. Israel will never become an apartheid state unless it declares itself to be one.
The premise that Israel is a democracy, maintained by Peace Now, Meretz, the editorial board of Haaretz and other critics of occupation, rests on the belief that one can separate the pre-1967 state from the rest of the territory under its control. A conceptual wall must be maintained between two regimes: (good) democratic Israel and its (bad) provisional occupation. This way of thinking is of a piece with the general liberal Zionist belief that it’s legitimate to condemn Israeli settlements – and even, for some, to boycott their products – but not to call for reducing support to the government that planned, established and maintains them. What seemed most troubling about annexation for these groups was that it would undermine their claims that the occupation is occurring somewhere outside the state and that it is temporary, a 53-year-long departure from what liberal Zionist groups like the New Israel Fund call Israel’s ‘liberal democratic founding values’.
It is not difficult to make the case that Israel’s actions in the West Bank amount to apartheid. Israelis and Palestinians in the same territory are subject to two different legal systems. They are tried in different courts, one military, one civilian, for the same crime committed on the same street. Jews in the West Bank, both Israeli citizens and non-citizens who are eligible as Jews to immigrate, enjoy most of the same rights and protections as Israelis in the rest of the country. Palestinians are subject to military rule and are denied freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and even the right not to be detained indefinitely without trial. The discrimination is not just national – by Israelis against Palestinians who lack citizenship – but ethnic, by Jews against Palestinian subjects and citizens alike. While Jews in the West Bank, citizens or not, are tried in Israeli civil courts, Israeli citizens who are Palestinian can be sent to military courts. A 2014 report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the largest and oldest human rights group in the country, noted that ‘since the 1980s, all Israeli citizens brought to trial before the military courts were Arab citizens or residents of Israel ... no judgment was found in which the request of an Arab citizen to transfer his case from a military court to a court in Israel was accepted.’
After the 1967 war, Israel applied military law to all of the occupied territories it didn’t formally annex. Israeli Jews who moved to government-planned settlements in the West Bank were placed under Israeli civil law, separating them from the legal regime governing the Palestinians on whose lands they resided. Israel couldn’t apply civil law to its citizens in the West Bank on a territorial basis without further and egregiously violating the international legal prohibition on annexation, so the Knesset amended its laws and regulations to apply to settlers as individuals, extra-territorially. In this way Israel extended to Jews in the West Bank most of the same rights as Israelis in the rest of the country regarding health insurance, national insurance, consumer protection, taxes (income, property and valued-added), higher education, entry to Israel, population registration, traffic ordinance and voting, making settlers the only Israeli citizens, aside from the small number stationed abroad, permitted to vote in a place of residence outside the official territory of the state. On election days, the Palestinians living alongside them are put under closure, further restricting their movement.
The application of Israeli law to settlers as individuals still left some gaps, particularly regarding land, building and planning. In order to close them, the Israeli military issued ordinances that distinguished the municipal areas of settlements – local councils and regional councils – from the rest of the occupied territory, so that Israel could use one set of regulations (copied and pasted from municipal legislation in pre-1967 Israel) to expand Jewish communities and another to constrict Palestinian ones. Over the past two decades, Israel has built tens of thousands of housing units for Israeli Jews in the West Bank while rejecting more than 96 per cent of Palestinian building applications and demolishing thousands of Palestinian homes. Of the public land that Israel has designated for any kind of use, 99.76 per cent went to Jewish settlements. Palestinians are forbidden from entering settlement areas except with special permits, usually given to day labourers. Similarly, in the so-called Seam Zone – the West Bank areas that were severed from the rest of the territory by Israel’s separation barrier – Palestinians can’t enter without permits, even to farm their own land, while the same area can be accessed freely by any tourist or ‘Israeli’, defined as a citizen, a permanent resident or a Jew entitled to immigrate to Israel.
The fact that some Israeli laws that apply to territory in the West Bank were introduced via military order – in most cases, by replicating Israeli legislation – has allowed Jewish organisations that consider themselves progressive to argue that there are two separate regimes in the area under Israel’s control: a military regime in the unannexed West Bank and a civil regime in annexed East Jerusalem and pre-1967 Israel. According to this theory, West Bank settlers and Palestinians are subjects of the same oppressive military administration, while Israeli citizens and residents in pre-1967 Israel and annexed East Jerusalem are governed by a democratic civil regime.
Neither Israeli settlers nor Palestinians experience life in the West Bank this way. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth: it is not Israeli citizens in the West Bank and those within the pre-1967 lines who live under separate regimes, but Israeli settlers and the Palestinians living alongside them. Israelis from all over the country drive on major highways that cut in and out of the West Bank: no signs indicate that they have left Israel. New Jewish immigrants can move straight from London or Los Angeles to a West Bank settlement just as they would move to Tel Aviv, with the same financial benefits, language instruction and low-interest mortgages. Israelis living inside the pre-1967 lines work in settlement factories, study at a settlement university accredited by the Israeli Council of Higher Education, shop at settlement malls and visit national parks in the West Bank. The Israeli government is not separate from its institutions in the occupied territory. The Knesset has passed legislation applying specifically to the West Bank, and amended laws to apply specifically to Jews and Israeli citizens residing there. Israeli ministries spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on West Bank settlements and infrastructure. An executive branch ministerial committee approves the establishment of West Bank settlements. A legislative branch subcommittee is devoted to advancing their infrastructure and development. The state comptroller supervises government policy in the West Bank, overseeing everything from wastewater pollution to road safety. The attorney general enforces guidelines that direct the legislature to explain the applicability of every bill to the settlements. Israel’s High Court of Justice is the court of final appeal for all Israeli citizens and Palestinian subjects in the entire territory under Israel’s control. Officers of Israel’s national police force hand out traffic tickets to both Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank. Israel’s absorption of the West Bank is a joint undertaking of every branch of government – legislative, executive and judicial.
Whereas Israelis travel freely across Israel and its West Bank settlements, Palestinians within the occupied territory live under separate jurisdictions, requiring Israeli permits to cross from the unannexed parts of the West Bank to annexed Jerusalem, Gaza or the more than 30 per cent of the West Bank that is off limits to Palestinians: the Seam Zone, the jurisdictional areas of settlements, and so-called military training areas, more than three-quarters of which, the Israeli NGO Kerem Navot has found, are not actually used for military training but for such purposes as preventing Palestinian development and retaining Israeli control. A Palestinian in Ramallah ostensibly lives in one of the 165 Palestinian Authority-governed enclaves that together make up less than 40 per cent of the West Bank. But she, too, is subject to a single Israeli authority, not a separate West Bank regime. If she is a member of one of more than four hundred illegal organisations – the list is constantly expanding, and contains every major Palestinian political party, including Fatah – she can be arrested by Israeli forces in an autonomous Palestinian area, as happened in 2019 to the politician Khalida Jarrar, a high-ranking member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was taken by Israeli forces from her home near Ramallah at 3 a.m. Palestinian powers of autonomy are so limited that Israel controls all the roads leading in and out of PA-governed areas, invades homes within them every day and night and is permitted to enter even for reasons that have nothing to do with the security of Israeli citizens, such as arresting car thieves. Among those who make the arrests are members of Yamas and Yamam, two units of Israel’s national police.
The arrested Ramallah resident might be taken from her home to the Russian Compound in West Jerusalem and interrogated by members of the Israel Security Agency, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv but operates throughout the areas under Israel’s control. She could be held for six months without trial or charge, and her detention repeatedly extended, for another six months at a time, in perpetuity. If she is finally offered a trial, she might cross from the supposedly separate regime in West Jerusalem to the Ofer military court near Ramallah. Because almost everyone who appears before Israeli military courts is convicted, she would almost certainly go to prison. That prison would be one of 29 run by the Israel Prison Service, which operates across all Israeli-controlled territories. Without permits to visit prisons within the pre-1967 lines, her family would not be able to visit her. She might try to appeal against her conviction at the Israeli High Court but the odds are not good: the court has approved nearly every internationally prohibited policy Israel has carried out in the occupied territory, including deportations, assassinations, imprisonment without trial, demolitions, land confiscation, pillage of natural resources and collective punishments such as mass curfews, school closures and withholding electricity for an entire region. For her appeal, she might hire an Israeli human rights lawyer, who would argue her case against an attorney from the Ministry of Justice before a panel of High Court justices, two of whom live in the West Bank. According to the ‘separate regimes’ analysis, she and the two Israeli justices are not so different from one another. They are all subjects of a separate West Bank military regime.
The insistence on separate regimes derives from political rather than legal considerations. By asserting the existence of two regimes, liberal Zionist groups like J Street can tell donors, legislators and university students that they are ‘pro-Israel’, while criticising an occupation that allegedly exists somewhere beyond the state. But the attempt to separate Israel from the criticisms, and consequences, of its policies in the West Bank also leads to absurd and false assertions, such as J Street’s recent claim that ‘Israeli settlers’ are ‘demolishing [Palestinian] homes’. In fact, it is not ‘the settlers’ – one in ten Israeli Jews – but the government of Israel, which J Street supports, that destroys Palestinian homes in the West Bank. The government does so at the behest of elected ministers and legislators.
The fiction of separate regimes allows liberal Zionists to promote a politically correct two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, while avoiding the more equitable remedy demanded by the recognition that the Israeli state extends to all the land under its control. Such a remedy would require not only an end to occupation but also to ethnic discrimination throughout the territory. The Zionist left doesn’t call for Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel to have full equality within pre-1967 Israel. Instead, leading liberal Zionist organisations seek to ensure Israel remains a Jewish-majority state that can continue to provide to its Jewish citizens land and immigration rights that are denied to citizens from the indigenous Palestinian minority. The only way for the Zionist left to oppose ethnic domination in the West Bank while preserving ethnic privilege in pre-1967 Israel is to assert that there is an ‘apartheid regime’ in the West Bank separate from the Israeli state. For pre-1967 Israel to be part of an apartheid state would therefore require formal annexation of the West Bank, ‘amalgamating’ the two regimes. But this is a misunderstanding of the crime of apartheid as described in international law. Like torture, apartheid does not need to be applied uniformly or everywhere in a country to be criminal: in international law there is no such thing as an ‘apartheid regime’, just as there is no such thing as a ‘torture regime’. The word ‘regime’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the original 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. And, although the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court does use the word ‘regime’ in its definition (it was added to satisfy the US delegation, which was concerned about the possible prosecution of US citizens belonging to white supremacist groups), it was clearly not inserted to allow apartheid to be restricted to regions or units of a state.
Yet the notion that only formal annexation can turn Israel into an apartheid state has become intrinsic to left-wing Zionist ideology. In June last year, more than five hundred scholars of Jewish studies, many of them prominent supporters of Israel, such as the American Jewish philosopher Michael Walzer, signed a letter stating that ‘annexation of Palestinian territories will cement into place an anti-democratic system of separate and unequal law and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian population. Such discrimination on the basis of racial, ethnic, religious or national background is defined as “conditions of apartheid” and a “crime against humanity”.’
The same month, Zulat, a new think tank headed by the former chair of the liberal Zionist Meretz party, Zehava Gal-On, published a report entitled ‘Whitewashing Apartheid’. In a section on the consequences of de jure annexation it performed a whitewash of its own, arguing that apartheid in the West Bank is currently practised not by Israel but by a separate regime: ‘Even if we annex only one square metre, the state of Israel will be relinquishing its democratic pretensions and abandoning its 53-year declared intention to end the conflict, reach an agreed settlement with the Palestinians and cease ruling over them.’ Even annexation, however, ‘does not necessarily make Israel an apartheid state but rather preserves it as a state operating a regime with apartheid characteristics in the occupied territories’. By this standard, apartheid South Africa was a democracy – like all democracies, an imperfect one – operating a regime with apartheid characteristics in the townships and Bantustans. Those Bantustans, incidentally, had their own flags, anthems, civil servants, parliaments, elections and a limited degree of autonomy not unlike that of the Palestinian Authority.
Perhaps no organisation has promoted the idea of separate regimes more forcefully than Yesh Din, a human rights organisation that has conducted important legal advocacy on behalf of Palestinians subjected to settler violence, unlawful killing and destruction of property by Israeli security forces, Israeli land confiscation and Israeli restrictions on access to farmland. Last year, Yesh Din became the first Israeli organisation to publish a significant report accusing government officials of apartheid. At the same time, it is one of the staunchest defenders of the separate regimes theory. Yesh Din’s shifting, inconsistent answers to the question of at which point Israel would cease to be a democracy have been emblematic of the broader weaknesses in the separate regimes argument. The night Likud signed its coalition agreement with Blue and White, Yesh Din published a position paper on the potential impact of annexation. ‘The coming annexation,’ it concluded,
will pull the rug from under the argument, currently prevalent in many circles, that while apartheid, or at least an apartheid-like regime, is currently practised in the West Bank, the sovereign state of Israel is a democracy. Applying Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank would be tantamount to a declaration that there is one regime, rather than separate administrations. Annexation without full citizenship and equal rights for Palestinian residents of the annexed area would produce a veritable apartheid regime Israel would have difficulty denying. Such a regime would perpetuate human rights abuses against Palestinians, leaving them forever deprived of liberty and equality.
Israel could by this reasoning annex only the Jewish-inhabited areas of the West Bank, maintain its occupation of millions of Palestinians in the adjacent non-annexed areas, and remain democratic. Perhaps aware of the deficiencies of this argument, Yesh Din later amended the paper. The new version, issued without explanation or correction, stated that after annexation Israel would be an apartheid state unless it gave full and equal rights to Palestinians, not in ‘the annexed area’, as the original version had it, but in ‘the entire West Bank’.
This formulation still allows Israel to remain a democracy, at least in the eyes of Yesh Din and like-minded groups, even as it holds two million Palestinians in Gaza, the largest of its ethnic enclaves, without clean drinking water, functioning sewage, regular electricity or the right to enter and leave freely. Though Israel claims that it ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, it still controls exports, imports, sea and airspace, and even the population registry, giving a unique ID number to all Palestinians in the territory, without which they may not exit, even across the border with Egypt. Conspicuously absent, too, from Yesh Din’s paper was any suggestion that Israel must grant full and equal rights to Palestinians in the areas formally annexed in 1967: East Jerusalem and 28 surrounding West Bank villages. Palestinian residents of these areas still do not have ‘full citizenship and equal rights’. Nor was any attempt made to explain why a partial West Bank annexation in 2020 would make Israel an apartheid state but the annexations of 1967 had not already done so.
In July, Yesh Din published a fifty-page legal opinion, written by the human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, which found Israeli officials guilty of apartheid, defined by the 1973 convention 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’. Racial groups are recognised in international criminal law as social rather than biological: in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, invoked in the preamble of the 1973 Apartheid Convention, ‘racial discrimination’ is defined as ‘any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin’. Decades later, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia held that the definition of a persecuted group was not a matter of heredity but stigmatisation and the subjective perceptions of the persecutors. International criminal law applies to individuals, not states, so it is not the Israeli government but its officials who could be prosecuted for committing apartheid. The human rights organisations B’Tselem and Adalah are the only major groups in Israel that have called on the ICC to launch an investigation into war crimes committed by Israeli officials. When B’Tselem’s executive director, Hagai El-Ad, spoke against the settlements at the UN Security Council in 2016, he was condemned by centrist and centre-left Israeli lawmakers. The coalition chairman from Likud threatened to strip him of his citizenship and a Labor Party activist filed a police complaint alleging he had committed treason.
Yesh Din’s legal opinion focused solely on whether apartheid is being committed, ‘not who is committing it’, and limited its scope to the unannexed areas of the West Bank (Yesh Din’s primary area of expertise), leaving out not only Gaza and Israel within its pre-1967 lines but also the lands annexed in 1967. This wasn’t because it was invalid to examine the subjugation of Palestinians in the entire territory under Israel’s control, Sfard claimed, but because it was still possible, despite ‘creeping legal annexation’, to look at the West Bank as governed by a separate ‘regime’ or at least a ‘subsidiary’ regime of Israel. One ‘difficulty’ in treating the West Bank as a separate regime, he acknowledged, is that part of the West Bank has already been formally annexed. The annexed area of East Jerusalem and its surrounding villages
shares many commonalities with the West Bank: its Palestinian residents are not Israeli citizens, and as such, do not vote and have no political representation. Additionally, Israel has implemented a number of policies in East Jerusalem that are analogous, and sometimes identical, to those it employs in the West Bank: massive colonisation through Israel-focused development, incentivising tens of thousands of Israeli citizens to settle in the area, mass expropriation and dispossession of Palestinian land and property, prevention of Palestinian development and diversion of resources to benefit Israelis who move to the city. All of these, and, chiefly, the unlawful annexation that must not be recognised, justify treating East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a single unit.
Yet Yesh Din’s legal opinion didn’t do so. Nor did it examine discriminatory policies within Israel, where tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens live in villages that Israel refuses to recognise or connect to water and electricity, and where hundreds of Jewish-only towns have admission committees that are permitted by law to reject Palestinians on the pretext of ‘social suitability’, thereby excluding applicants who haven’t served in the Israeli army, aren’t Zionist or don’t plan to send their children to Hebrew-language schools. Israel has seized more than three-quarters of the land of its Palestinian citizens. This expropriation is a continuous project, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, but most of it took place, as in the West Bank today, while Palestinians were under military rule. In the seven decades of Israel’s existence, there have been only six months, in 1966-67, when it did not place members of one ethnic group under military government while it confiscated their land. As the Israeli historian Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin has pointed out, ‘these six months, less than one per cent of Israel’s existence, are the point of reference for the whole discussion of Israel as a “Jewish democratic state”.’ And yet ‘the exception ... becomes the rule, while the rule – the occupation – is presented as the exception.’
Apartheid couldn’t have been sustained for decades without many outside funders, protectors and co-conspirators. Foremost among them is the US, which has granted more than $110 billion to the occupying military force and spent hundreds of millions on upgrading the infrastructure of apartheid, refurbishing checkpoints and paving West Bank roads. The EU is the chief financier of the Palestinian autonomy cantons and a leading importer of settlement products. Together the US and its European allies have tirelessly attempted to stop the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court from holding Israel to account.
Even those who present themselves as champions of Palestinian freedom and human rights lend support to the status quo. The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said of the Trump plan that ‘we recognise [its] merit’ and ‘it is maybe a starting point for negotiations.’ The office of the UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process regularly neglects the UN’s core mandates of protecting human rights and upholding international law, preferring to be a bit player in the US-led peace process. In October, after Israel advanced plans for nearly five thousand new houses in West Bank settlements, the outgoing UN envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, issued a typically bland statement, noting that most of the houses were in ‘outlying locations deep inside the occupied West Bank’ and that the ‘significant number and location of advancements is of great concern’ because they ‘undermine the prospect of achieving a viable two-state solution’. Is it the role of the UN envoy to distinguish between illegal settlements deep in the West Bank and illegal settlements closer to the pre-1967 lines? With the aid of the ‘peacemakers’, the definition of what constitutes ‘outlying’ pushes steadily eastward. The UN, like the US, Europe and liberal Zionist groups, has subordinated international law and human rights to the sanctification of a two-state solution, which it treats not as one possible means of achieving what should be the primary goal – ending the oppression of millions of people on the basis of their ethnicity – but as the goal itself.
Diplomats and well-meaning anti-occupation groups greet every new act of Israeli expansion with dire warnings that it will be a ‘fatal blow’ to the two-state solution, that ‘the window is closing’ for Palestinian statehood and that now, on the eve of this latest takeover, it is ‘five minutes to midnight’ for the prospect of peace. Countless alarms of this kind have been rung during the past two decades. Each was supposed to convince Israel, the US, Europe and the rest of the world of the need to stop or at least slow Israel’s de facto annexation. But they have had the opposite effect: demonstrating that it will always be five minutes to midnight. European and American policymakers, together with the liberal Zionist groups that lobby them, can thus maintain that the two-state solution isn’t dead but merely embattled – and, therefore, permanently ‘alive’. In the meantime, millions of Palestinians continue to be deprived of basic civil rights and subjected to military rule. With the exception of those six months in 1966-67, this has been the reality for the majority of Palestinians living under Israeli control for the entire history of the state. South Africa’s apartheid lasted 46 years. Israel’s is at 72, and counting.
Not ‘Apartheid in the West Bank’ - It's Apartheid
By Gideon Levy -
For just six months of its 73 years was Israel a democracy. Six months, and not one day more. This shocking fact, which most Israelis and the wider world repress and truth-seekers have no way of denying, must resound in every civics lesson and every debate in Israel.
Israeli border police officers and Palestinians clash during a protest near the West Bank town of Salfit, December 3, 2020. Credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
All the nonsense about “Bibi is destroying democracy” ignores this eternal fact: Only for six months did the state treat all the people under its rule in a democratic way, at least for the sake of appearances. Throughout all its decades of existence, Israel has treated part of its subjects tyrannically. That’s why it has no connection at all with democracy.
On October 21, 1948, Israel put its Arab citizens under a military government. On December 1, 1966, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol lifted this disgrace. Six months later, in June 1967, military tyranny returned to define Israel when its newly occupied territories were placed under military rule.
This situation has continued to this day and its end is nowhere in sight. All that remains is the costume. Now, that too is beginning to be torn away; a long process. The roots of the lie of democracy are deep.
The rights group B’Tselem published a revolutionary position paper last week, crossing the Rubicon by saying that the Jewish supremacy regime exists not just in the occupied territories, where B’Tselem has been documenting crimes since the group’s founding, but in all the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
A few days earlier, the American writer Nathan Thrall, who lives in Jerusalem, published an eye-opening and mind-expanding piece in The London Review of Books entitled “The Separate Regimes Delusion.” Thrall doesn’t hesitate to criticize the supposedly liberal-Zionist and leftist organizations, from Meretz and Peace Now to Yesh Din and Haaretz. All of them believe that Israel is a democracy and oppose annexation because it could undermine their false belief that the occupation is happening somewhere else, outside of Israel, and is only temporary. The separation between the occupation and Israel is still valid in their eyes, so they’re leading people astray.
The conclusion from the two documents is one and the same: It’s impossible to speak any longer about “apartheid in the territories.” It’s impossible to separate the territories and Israel, and it’s impossible to consider the occupation temporary. The conclusion: Israel is an apartheid state. Just as in South Africa it was ludicrous to talk about democracy, even though elections were held, it’s ridiculous to view Israel as a democracy.
If part of it is tyranny, all of it is tyranny. It’s impossible to argue with the fact that in the occupied territories two systems of rights and laws exist based on the separating of nationalities. No fact is more certain.
The temporariness of the occupation is also an outdated argument. That’s why we have to stop trying to terrify people and claim that the right wing is leading us to apartheid. Apartheid has been here since 1948. Only then will we be able to recognize that the occupation defines the Israeli regime – not the High Court of Justice, not the elections and not the freedoms for Jews, and also a bit for non-Jewish citizens. Jewish supremacy is in everything, as B’Tselem puts it. It’s impossible to separate the “good” Israel and the “bad” occupation, as Thrall states.
Get to know it: apartheid. An apartheid state. We live in one, we are part of it, we are partners to it. It’s our country.
New report by rights group B’Tselem will make it harder to smear Israel’s critics as antisemites for arguing that Israel is a racist state
By Jonathan Cook – 14. January 2021
For more than a decade, a handful of former Israeli politicians and US diplomats identified with what might be termed the “peace process industry” have intermittently warned that, without a two-state solution, Israel is in danger of becoming an “apartheid state”.
The most notable among them include Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, two former Israeli prime ministers, and John Kerry, who served as former US President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Time is rapidly running out, they have all declared in the past.
Their chief concern, it seems, was that without the alibi of some kind of Palestinian state – however circumscribed and feeble – the legitimacy of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” would increasingly come under scrutiny. Apartheid will arrive, the argument goes, when a minority of Israeli Jews rule over a majority of Palestinians in the area controlled by Israel between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
The apartheid threat has been wielded by the so-called “peace camp” in hopes of mobilising international pressure on the Israeli right, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The goal has been to force it into making sufficient concessions that the Palestinian leadership agrees to a demilitarised statelet, or statelets, on fragments on the original Palestinian homeland.
Meanwhile, demographic trends have continued apace, and the Israeli right has ignored all warnings, preferring to pursue their Greater Israel ambitions instead. But strangely, the apartheid moment never arrived for the Israeli peace camp. Instead, its expressions of concern about apartheid fizzled into silence, as did its once-vocal worries about a Palestinian demographic majority.
This entirely cynical approach to Palestinian statehood was very belatedly blown apart this week with the publication of a report by B’Tselem, Israel’s most prominent and respected human rights group. It broke ranks to declare what has been obvious for many, many years. Israel has created a permanent reality in which there are two peoples, Jews and Palestinians, sharing the same territorial space, but “a regime of Jewish supremacy” has been imposed by the stronger side. This unequivocally qualifies as apartheid, B’Tselem said.
It dismisses the sophistry that apartheid relates to some self-serving demographic deadline – one that never materialises – rather than the explicitly segregationist practices and policies Israel has enforced throughout the territories it rules. It also dismisses arguments made by Israel’s partisans abroad that Israel cannot be an apartheid state because there are no South African-style “whites only” signs on park benches.
Hagai El-Ad, B’Tselem’s executive director, notes that Israel’s version – “apartheid 2.0, if you will – avoids certain kinds of ugliness … That Israel’s definitions do not depend on skin colour make no material difference: it is the supremacist reality which is the heart of the matter.” The report concludes that the bar for apartheid was met after considering “the accumulation of policies and laws that Israel devised to entrench its control over Palestinians”.
What is perhaps most daring about B’Tselem’s analysis is its admission that apartheid exists not just in the occupied territories, as has been observed before, including by former US President Jimmy Carter. It describes the entire region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River – which encompasses both Israel and the Palestinian territories – as an apartheid regime. It thereby denies Israel’s claims to be a democratic state even inside its internationally recognised borders.
B’Tselem has abandoned the pretence that apartheid can be limited to the occupied territories, as though Israel – the state that rules Palestinians – is somehow exempt from being classified as integral to the apartheid enterprise it institutes and oversees.
That was always obvious. How much sense would it have made in the former South Africa to claim that apartheid existed only in the Bantustans or black townships, while exempting white areas? None at all. And yet, Israel has been getting away with precisely this clearcut casuistry for decades – largely aided by the peace camp, including B’Tselem.
Now, B’Tselem observes: “Jews go about their lives in a single, contiguous space where they enjoy full rights and self-determination. In contrast, Palestinians live in a space that is fragmented into several units, each with a different set of rights – given or denied by Israel, but always inferior to the rights accorded to Jews.”
Israel’s “Jewish supremacist ideology” is revealed in its obsession with “Judaising” land, in its bifurcated citizenship laws and policies that privilege Jews alone, in its regulations that restrict movement for Palestinians only, and in its denial of political participation to Palestinians. These discriminatory policies, B’Tselem notes, apply also to the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian and have nominal Israeli citizenship.
El-Ad concludes: “There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself.”
What B’Tselem has done is echo the arguments long made by academics and Palestinian civil society, including the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, that Israel is a settler-colonial society.
In an emailed response to the report, Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, said it helped to put an end to “the vicious and deeply racist lies about the not-so-perfect Israeli democracy that has a problem called ‘the occupation’”.
The B’Tselem report observes that, while “occupation” must be a temporary situation, Israel has no intention of ending its military rule over Palestinians, even after more than five decades. A Palestinian state is not conceivably on the agenda of any Israeli party in sight of power, and no one in the international community with any influence is demanding one. The two-state solution has been smothered into oblivion.
For that reason, it argues, all of Israel and the Palestinian territories under occupation are organised “under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians”.
There are good reasons why B’Tselem is biting the bullet now, after decades of equivocation from it and the rest of the Israeli peace camp. Firstly, no one really believes that Israel will be pressured from outside into conceding a Palestinian state. Trump’s so-called “peace plan”, unveiled a year ago, gave Netanyahu everything he wanted, including support for annexing swaths of the West Bank on which illegal settlements have been built.
Four years of Trump, and the recruitment of much of the Gulf to Netanyahu’s side, has shifted the conversation a long way from efforts to secure Palestinian statehood. Now, the focus is on how best to delay Israel’s move towards formal annexation.
US president-elect Joe Biden will at best try to push things back to the dismal state they were in before Donald Trump took office. At worst, he will quietly assent to all or most of the damage Trump has inflicted on the Palestinian national cause.
Secondly, B’Tselem and other human rights groups are more deeply isolated at home than ever before. There is simply no political constituency in Israel for their research into the systematic abuses of Palestinians by the Israeli army and settlers. That means B’Tselem no longer needs to worry about messaging that could antagonise the sensibilities of Israel’s so-called “Zionist left” – because there is no meaningful peace camp left to alienate.
The disappearance of this peace camp, unreliable as it was, has only been underscored by the Israeli general election due in late March. The battle for power this time is being waged between three or four far-right parties that all support annexation to varying degrees.
The Israeli left has ceased to exist at the political level. It comprises a handful of human and legal rights groups, mostly seen by the public as traitors supposedly meddling in Israel’s affairs on behalf of “European” interests. At this stage, B’Tselem has little to lose. It is almost entirely irrelevant inside Israel.
Thirdly, and as a result, the only audience for B’Tselem’s careful research exposing Israeli abuses is overseas. This new report seeks to liberate a conversation about Israel, partly among Palestinian solidarity activists abroad. Their campaigns have been stymied by the failure of the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas to signal where they should direct their energies, now that prospects for Palestinian statehood have vanished.
Activists have also been browbeaten into silence by smears from Israel’s partisans in the US and Europe, decrying any trenchant criticism of Israel as antisemitic. These slurs were relentlessly deployed against the UK’s Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn because of his support for the Palestinian cause.
Breaking a taboo
By calling Israel an apartheid state and a “regime of Jewish supremacy”, B’Tselem has given the lie to the Israel lobby’s claim – bolstered by a new definition promoted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – that it is antisemitic to suggest Israel is a “racist endeavour”.
B’Tselem, a veteran Israeli Jewish organisation with deep expertise in human rights and international law, has now explicitly declared that Israel is a racist state. Israel’s apologists will now face the much harder task of showing that B’Tselem is antisemitic, along with the Palestinian solidarity activists who cite its work.
The report is also intended to reach out to young American Jews, who are more willing than their parents to foreground the mistreatment of Palestinians and to forgo the Zionist idea that Israel is their bolthole in times of trouble.
Significantly, the B’Tselem report has been published in the wake of two groundbreaking essays this past summer by influential American Jewish journalist Peter Beinart. In them, he broke a taboo in the US Jewish mainstream by declaring the two-state solution dead and calling for a single democratic state for Israelis and Palestinians.
It doubtless served as a wakeup call to Israeli groups such as B’Tselem that the conversation about Israel is moving on in the US and becoming much more polarised. Israeli human rights groups need to engage with this debate, not shy away from it.
Battle for equality
There is one possible lacuna in B’Tselem’s position. The report suggests a reticence to focus on outcomes. Nowhere is the two-state solution ruled out. Rather, the report notes: “There are various political paths to a just future.” Statements by El-Ad to Middle East Eye indicate that his organisation may still support a framework of international pressure for incremental, piecemeal change in Israeli policies that violate Palestinian human rights.
That is very much what western states, particularly Europe, have been paying lipservice to for decades, while Israeli apartheid has entrenched.
Does B’Tselem hope its apartheid criticisms will prove more effective than Barak and Olmert’s apartheid warnings, finally galvanising the international community into action to push for a Palestinian state? If so, Biden’s performance in office should soon dispel any such illusions.
El-Ad observes that the goal now is “a rejection of supremacy, built on a commitment to justice and our shared humanity.”
That cannot happen within the two-state framework, even on the untenable assumption that the international community ever seriously rallies behind Palestinian statehood, against Israel’s wishes. So why not say so explicitly? The best-case two-state scenarios on the table are for a tiny, divided, demilitarised, pseudo-Palestinian state with no control over its borders, airspace or electromagnetic frequencies.
That would not offer “justice” to Palestinians or recognise their “shared humanity” with Israeli Jews.
As welcome as the new report is, it is time for B’Tselem – as well as Palestinian solidarity activists who look to the organisation – to explicitly reject any reversion to a “peace process” premised on ending the occupation. The logic of an apartheid analysis needs to be followed to the very end. That requires unequivocally embracing a democratic single state guaranteeing equality and dignity for all.
Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). See his books at https://www.jonathan-cook.net
This 10-minute video was filmed during a visit to Saffuriya, a destroyed village near Nazareth that was ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian population in 1948.
More than 14 million people, roughly half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule. The common perception in public, political, legal and media discourse is that two separate regimes operate side by side in this area, separated by the Green Line. One regime, inside the borders of the sovereign State of Israel, is a permanent democracy with a population of about nine million, all Israeli citizens. The other regime, in the territories Israel took over in 1967, whose final status is supposed to be determined in future negotiations, is a temporary military occupation imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects.
Over time, the distinction between the two regimes has grown divorced from reality. This state of affairs has existed for more than 50 years – twice as long as the State of Israel existed without it. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers now reside in permanent settlements east of the Green Line, living as though they were west of it. East Jerusalem has been officially annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory, and the West Bank has been annexed in practice. Most importantly, the distinction obfuscates the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. All this leads to the conclusion that these are not two parallel regimes that simply happen to uphold the same principle. There is one regime governing the entire area and the people living in it, based on a single organizing principle.
When B’Tselem was founded in 1989, we limited our mandate to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and refrained from addressing human rights inside the State of Israel established in 1948 or from taking a comprehensive approach to the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Yet the situation has changed. The regime’s organizing principle has gained visibility in recent years, as evidenced by the Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People passed in 2018, or open talk of formally annexing parts of the West Bank in 2020. Taken together with the facts described above, this means that what happens in the Occupied Territories can no longer be treated as separate from the reality in the entire area under Israel’s control. The terms we have used in recent years to describe the situation – such as “prolonged occupation” or a “one-state reality” – are no longer adequate. To continue effectively fighting human rights violations, it is essential to examine and define the regime that governs the entire area.
This paper analyzes how the Israeli regime works to advance its goals in the entire area under its control. We do not provide a historical review or an evaluation of the Palestinian and Jewish national movements, or of the former South Africa regime. While these are important questions, they are beyond the purview of a human rights organization. Rather, this document presents the principles that guide the regime, demonstrates how it implements them and points to the conclusion that emerges from all of this as to how the regime should be defined and what that means for human rights.
Divide, separate, rule
In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group.
Jewish citizens live as though the entire area were a single space (excluding the Gaza Strip). The Green Line means next to nothing for them: whether they live west of it, within Israel’s sovereign territory, or east of it, in settlements not formally annexed to Israel, is irrelevant to their rights or status.
Where Palestinians live, on the other hand, is crucial. The Israeli regime has divided the area into several units that it defines and governs differently, according Palestinians different rights in each. This division is relevant to Palestinians only. The geographic space, which is contiguous for Jews, is a fragmented mosaic for Palestinians:
- Palestinians who live on land defined in 1948 as Israeli sovereign territory (sometimes called Arab-Israelis) are Israeli citizens and make up 17% of the state’s citizenry. While this status affords them many rights, they do not enjoy the same rights as Jewish citizens by either law or practice – as detailed further in this paper.
- Roughly 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, which consists of some 70,000 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 square meters] that Israel annexed to its sovereign territory in 1967. They are defined as permanent residents of Israel a status that allows them to live and work in Israel without needing special permits, to receive social benefits and health insurance, and to vote in municipal elections. Yet permanent residency, unlike citizenship, may be revoked at any time, at the complete discretion of the Minister of the Interior. In certain circumstances, it can also expire.
- Although Israel never formally annexed the West Bank, it treats the territory as its own. More than 2.6 million Palestinian subjects live in the West Bank, in dozens of disconnected enclaves, under rigid military rule and without political rights. In about 40% of the territory, Israel has transferred some civilian powers to the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, the PA is still subordinate to Israel and can only exercise its limited powers with Israel’s consent.
- The Gaza Strip is home to about two million Palestinians, also denied political rights. In 2005, Israel withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip, dismantled the settlements it built there and abdicated any responsibility for the fate of the Palestinian population. After the Hamas takeover in 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip that is still in place. Throughout all of these years, Israel has continued to control nearly every aspect of life in Gaza from outside.
Israel accords Palestinians a different package of rights in every one of these units – all of which are inferior compared to the rights afforded to Jewish citizens. The goal of Jewish supremacy is advanced differently in every unit, and the resulting forms of injustice differ: the lived experience of Palestinians in blockaded Gaza is unlike that of Palestinian subjects in the West Bank, permanent residents in East Jerusalem or Palestinian citizens within sovereign Israeli territory. Yet these are variations on the fact that all Palestinians living under Israeli rule are treated as inferior in rights and status to Jews who live in the very same area.
Detailed below are four major methods the Israeli regime uses to advance Jewish supremacy. Two are implemented similarly throughout the entire area: restricting migration by non-Jews and taking over Palestinian land to build Jewish-only communities, while relegating Palestinians to small enclaves. The other two are implemented primarily in the Occupied Territories: draconian restrictions on the movement of non-citizen Palestinians and denial of their political rights. Control over these aspects of life lies entirely in Israel’s hands: in the entire area, Israel has sole power over the population registry, land allocation, voter rolls and the right (or denial thereof) to travel within, enter or exit any part of the area.
A. Immigration – for Jews only:
Any Jew in the world and his or her children, grandchildren and spouses are entitled to immigrate to Israel at any time and receive Israeli citizenship, with all of its associated rights. They receive this status even if they choose to live in a West Bank settlement not formally annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory.
In contrast, non-Jews have no right to legal status in Israeli-controlled areas. Granting status is at the almost complete discretion of officials – the Minister of the Interior (within sovereign Israel) or the military commander (in the Occupied Territories). Despite this official distinction, the organizing principle remains the same: Palestinians living in other countries cannot immigrate to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, even if they, their parents or their grandparents were born and lived there. The only way Palestinians can immigrate to areas controlled by Israel is by marrying a Palestinian who already lives there – as citizen, resident or subject – as well as meeting a series of conditions and receiving Israeli approval..
Israel not only hampers Palestinian immigration but also impedes Palestinian relocation between the units, if the move – in the perception of the regime – would upgrade their status. For instance, Palestinian citizens of Israel or residents of East Jerusalem can easily relocate to the West Bank (although they risk their rights and status in doing so). Palestinians in the Occupied Territories cannot obtain Israeli citizenship and relocate to Israeli sovereign territory, except for in very rare instances, which depend on the approval of Israeli officials.
Israel’s policy on family unification illustrates this principle. For years, the regime has placed numerous obstacles before families in which each spouse lives in a different geographical unit. Over time, this has impeded and often prevented Palestinians marrying a Palestinian in another unit from acquiring status in that unit. As a result of this policy, tens of thousands of families have been unable to live together. When one spouse is a resident of the Gaza Strip , Israel allows the family to live there together, but if the other spouse is a resident of the West Bank, Israel demands they relocate permanently to Gaza. In 2003, the Knesset passed a Temporary Order (still in force) banning the issuance of Israeli citizenship or permanent residency to Palestinians from the Occupied Territories who marry Israelis – unlike citizens of other countries. In exceptional cases approved by the Minister of the Interior, Palestinians from the West Bank who marry Israelis may be granted status in Israel – yet it is only temporary and does not entitle them to social benefits.
Israel also undermines the right of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories – including East Jerusalem – to continue living where they were born. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of some 250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank (East Jerusalem included) and the Gaza Strip, in some cases on the grounds they had lived abroad for more than three years. This includes thousands of East Jerusalem residents who moved mere miles east of their homes to parts of the West Bank that are not officially annexed. All these individuals were robbed of the right to return to their homes and families, where they were born and raised.
B. Taking over land for Jews while crowding Palestinians in enclaves:
Israel practices a policy of “Judaizing” the area, based on the mindset that land is a resource meant almost exclusively to benefit the Jewish public. Land is used to develop and expand existing Jewish communities and build new ones, while Palestinians are dispossessed and corralled into small, crowded enclaves. This policy has been practiced with respect to land within sovereign Israeli territory since 1948 and applied to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967. In 2018, the underlying principle was entrenched in Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People, which stipulates that “the State considers the development of Jewish settlements a national value and will take action to encourage and promote the establishment and reinforcment of such settlements.”
Inside its sovereign territory, Israel has enacted discriminatory laws, most notably the Absentee Property Law , allowing it to expropriate vast tracts of Palestinian-owned land, including millions of dunams in communities whose residents were expelled or fled in 1948 and were barred from returning. Israel has also significantly reduced the areas designated for Palestinian local councils and communities, which now have access to less than 3% of the country’s total area. Most of the designated land is already saturated with construction. As a result, more than 90% of land in Israel’s sovereign territory is now under state control.
Israel has used this land to build hundreds of communities for Jewish citizens – yet not a single one for Palestinian citizens. The exception is a handful of towns and villages built to concentrate the Bedouin population , which has been stripped of most of its proprietary rights. Most of the land on which Bedouins used to live has been expropriated and registered as state land. Many Bedouin communities have been defined as ‘unrecognized’ and their residents as ‘invaders.’ On land historically occupied by Bedouins, Israel has built Jewish-only communities.
The Israeli regime severely restricts construction and development in the little remaining land in Palestinian communities within its sovereign territory. It also refrains from preparing master plans that reflect the population’s needs, and keeps these communities’ areas of jurisdiction virtually unchanged despite population growth. The result is small, crowded enclaves where residents have no choice but to build without permits .
Israel has also passed a law allowing communities with admission committees, numbering hundreds throughout the country, to reject Palestinian applicants on grounds of “cultural incompatibility.” This effectively prevents Palestinian citizens from living in communities designated for Jews. Officially, any Israeli citizen can live in any of the country’s cities ; in practice, only 10% of Palestinian citizens do. Even then, they are usually relegated to separate neighborhoods due to lack of educational, religious and other services, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a home in other parts of the city, or discriminatory practices in land and home sales.
The regime has used the same organizing principle in the West Bank since 1967 (including East Jerusalem). Hundreds of thousands of dunams, including farmland and pastureland, have been taken from Palestinian subjects on various pretexts and used, among other things, to establish and expand settlements, including residential neighborhoods, farmland and industrial zones. All settlements are closed military zones that Palestinians are forbidden from entering without a permit. So far, Israel has established more than 280 settlements in the West Bank (East Jerusalem included), which are now home to more than 600,000 Jews. More land has been taken to build hundreds of kilometers of bypass roads for settlers.
Israel has instituted a separate planning system for Palestinians in the West Bank, chiefly designed to prevent construction and development. Large swathes of land are unavailable for construction, having been declared state land, a firing zone, a nature reserve or a national park. The authorities also refrain from drafting adequate master plans reflecting the present and future needs of Palestinian communities in what little land has been spared. The separate planning system centers on demolishing structures built without permits – here, too, for lack of choice. All this has trapped Palestinians in dozens of densely-populated enclaves, with development outside them – whether for residential or public use, including infrastructure – almost completely banned.
C. Restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement
Israel allows its Jewish and Palestinian citizens and residents to travel freely throughout the area. Exceptions are the prohibition on entering the Gaza Strip, which it defines “hostile territory,” and the (mostly formal) prohibition on entering areas ostensibly under PA responsibility (Area A). In rare cases, Palestinian citizens or residents are permitted to enter Gaza.
Israeli citizens can also leave and reenter the country at any time. In contrast, residents of East Jerusalem do not hold Israeli passports and lengthy absence can result in revocation of status.
Israel routinely restricts the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and generally forbids them from moving between the units. Palestinians from the West Bank who wish to enter Israel, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip must apply to the Israeli authorities. In the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded since 2007, the entire population is imprisoned as Israel forbids almost any movement in or out – except in rare cases it defines humanitarian. Palestinians who wish to leave Gaza or Palestinians from other units who wish to enter it must also submit a special application for a permit to the Israeli authorities. The permits are issued sparingly and can only be obtained through a strict, arbitrary mechanism, or permit regime , which lacks transparency and clear rules. Israel treats every permit issued to a Palestinian as an act of grace rather than the fulfillment of a vested right.
In the West Bank, Israel controls all the routes between the Palestinian enclaves. This allows the military to set up flying checkpoints, close off access points to villages, block roads and stop passage through checkpoints at will. Furthermore, Israel built the Separation Barrier within the West Bank and designated Palestinian land, including farmland, trapped between the barrier and the Green Line as “the seam zone .” Palestinians in the West Bank are barred from entering this zone, subject to the same permit regime.
Palestinians in the Occupied Territories also need Israeli permission to go abroad. As a rule, Israel does not allow them to use Ben Gurion International Airport, which lies inside its sovereign territory. Palestinians from the West Bank must fly through Jordan’s international airport – but can only do so if Israel allows them to cross the border into Jordan. Every year, Israel denies thousands of requests to cross this border, with no explanation. Palestinians from Gaza must go through Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing – provided it is open, the Egyptian authorities let them through, and they can undertake the long journey through Egyptian territory. In rare exceptions, Israel allows Gazans to travel through its sovereign territory in an escorted shuttle, in order to reach the West Bank and from there continue to Jordan and on to their destination.
D. Denial of Palestinians’ right to political participation
Like their Jewish counterparts, Palestinian citizens of Israel can take political action to further their interests, including voting and running for office. They can elect representatives, establish parties or join existing ones. That said, Palestinian elected officials are continually vilified – a sentiment propagated by key political figures – and the right of Palestinian citizens to political participation is under constant attack .
The roughly five million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories cannot participate in the political system that governs their lives and determines their futures. Theoretically, most Palestinians are eligible to vote in the PA elections. Yet as the PA’s powers are limited, even if elections were held regularly (the last were in 2006), the Israeli regime would still rule Palestinians’ lives, as it retains major aspects of governance in the Occupied Territories. This includes control over immigration, the population registry, planning and land policies, water, communication infrastructure, import and export, and military control over land, sea and air space.
In East Jerusalem, Palestinians are caught between a rock and a hard place. As permanent residents of Israel, they can vote in municipal elections but not for parliament. On the other hand, Israel makes it difficult for them to participate in PA elections.
Political participation encompasses more than voting or running for office. Israel also denies Palestinians political rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association. These rights enable individuals to critique regimes, protest policies, form associations to advance their ideas and generally work to promote social and political change.
A slew of legislation, such as the boycott law and the Nakba law, has limited Israelis’ freedom to criticize policies relating to Palestinians throughout the area. Palestinians in the Occupied Territories face even harsher restrictions : they are not allowed to demonstrate; many associations have been banned; and almost any political statement is considered incitement. These restrictions are assiduously enforced by the military courts, which have imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and are a key mechanism upholding the occupation. In East Jerusalem, Israel works to prevent any social, cultural or political activity associated in any way with the PA.
The division of space also hampers a unified Palestinian struggle against Israeli policy. The variation in laws, procedures and rights among the geographical units and the draconian movement restrictions have separated the Palestinians into distinct groups. This fragmentation not only helps Israel promote Jewish supremacy, but also thwarts criticism and resistance.
No to apartheid: That is our struggle
The Israeli regime, which controls all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, seeks to advance and cement Jewish supremacy throughout the entire area. To that end, it has divided the area into several units, each with a different set of rights for Palestinians – always inferior to the rights of Jews. As part of this policy, Palestinians are denied many rights, including the right to self-determination.
This policy is advanced in several ways. Israel demographically engineers the space through laws and orders that allow any Jew in the world or their relatives to obtain Israeli citizenship, but almost completely deny Palestinians this possibility. It has physically engineered the entire area by taking over of millions of dunams of land and establishing Jewish-only communities, while driving Palestinians into small enclaves. Movement is engineered through restrictions on Palestinian subjects, and political engineering excludes millions of Palestinians from participating in the processes that determine their lives and futures while holding them under military occupation.
A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime. Israeli apartheid, which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, was not born in one day or of a single speech. It is a process that has gradually grown more institutionalized and explicit, with mechanisms introduced over time in law and practice to promote Jewish supremacy. These accumulated measures, their pervasiveness in legislation and political practice, and the public and judicial support they receive – all form the basis for our conclusion that the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met.
If this regime has developed over many years, why release this paper in 2021? What has changed? Recent years have seen a rise in the motivation and willingness of Israeli officials and institutions to enshrine Jewish supremacy in law and openly state their intentions. The enactment of Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People and the declared plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank have shattered the façade Israel worked for years to maintain.
The Nation State basic law, enacted in 2018, enshrines the Jewish people’s right to self-determination to the exclusion of all others. It establishes that distinguishing Jews in Israel (and throughout the world) from non-Jews is fundamental and legitimate. Based on this distinction, the law permits institutionalized discrimination in favor of Jews in settlement, housing, land development, citizenship, language and culture. It is true that the Israeli regime largely followed these principles before. Yet Jewish supremacy has now been enshrined in basic law, making it a binding constitutional principle – unlike ordinary law or practices by authorities, which can be challenged. This signals to all state institutions that they not only can, but must, promote Jewish supremacy in the entire area under Israeli control.
Israel’s plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank also bridges the gap between the official status of the Occupied Territories, which is accompanied by empty rhetoric about negotiation of its future, and the fact that Israel actually annexed most of the West Bank long ago. Israel did not follow through on its declarations of formal annexation after July 2020, and various officials have released contradicting statements regarding the plan since. Regardless of how and when Israel advances formal annexation of one kind or another, its intention to achieve permanent control over the entire area has already been openly declared by the state’s highest officials.
The Israeli regime’s rationale, and the measures used to implement it, are reminiscent of the South African regime that sought to preserve the supremacy of white citizens, in part through partitioning the population into classes and sub-classes and ascribing different rights to each. There are, of course, differences between the regimes. For instance, the division in South Africa was based on race and skin color, while in Israel it is based on nationality and ethnicity. Segregation in South Africa was also manifested in public space, in the form of a policed, formal, public separation between people based on skin color – a degree of visibility that Israel usually avoids. Yet in public discourse and in international law, apartheid does not mean an exact copy of the former South African regime. No regime will ever be identical. ‘Apartheid’ has long been an independent term, entrenched in international conventions, referring to a regime’s organizing principle: systematically promoting the dominance of one group over another and working to cement it.
The Israeli regime does not have to declare itself an apartheid regime to be defined as such, nor is it relevant that representatives of the state broadly proclaim it a democracy. What defines apartheid is not statements but practice. While South Africa declared itself an apartheid regime in 1948, it is unreasonable to expect other states to follow suit given the historical repercussions. The response of most countries to South Africa’s apartheid is likelier to deter countries from admitting to implementing a similar regime. It is also clear that what was possible in 1948 is no longer possible today, both legally and in terms of public opinion.
As painful as it may be to look reality in the eye, it is more painful to live under a boot. The harsh reality described here may deteriorate further if new practices are introduced – with or without accompanying legislation. Nevertheless, people created this regime and people can make it worse – or work to replace it. That hope is the driving force behind this position paper. How can people fight injustice if it is unnamed? Apartheid is the organizing principle, yet recognizing this does not mean giving up. On the contrary: it is a call for change.
Fighting for a future based on human rights, liberty and justice is especially crucial now. There are various political paths to a just future here, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, but all of us must first choose to say no to apartheid.
Finkelstein: How Gulf monarchies, PLO leaders, and US neoliberals sold out Palestine
•Sep 22, 2020
Chuck Baldwin Exposes Donald Trump's Tyrannical Executive Order
Dec 17, 2019
Donald Trump's so-called "antisemitism" Executive Order Is abominable, reprehensible & downright tyrannical. It is a blatant attack against the First Amendment protection of free speech and for all intents and purposes elevates all things Jewish to royalty status in America--being granted official government protection against any kind of criticism. In this video, Chuck Baldwin exposes the fact that not only is Donald Trump a hack for Zionism; he is also a wanna-be tyrant--and this Executive Order proves it.
MUST WATCH!!! Undercover Footage Zionists DON'T Want You to See!
Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist: These Are the 20 Groups Whose Members Will Be Denied Entry
Israel published the full list of organizations whose activists will be barred from entering the country. The so-called BDS blacklist was released by the Strategic Affairs Ministry.
Members of the 20 organizations on the list will not be allowed to enter the country due to their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The list primarily includes European and American organizations as well as groups from Latin America, a group from South Africa and an international umbrella organization.
For months the Strategic Affairs Ministry had refused to divulge which organizations are on the list. However, a joint team from the Strategic Affairs and Interior ministries had previously determined the parameters that serve as a basis for barring activists from coming into the country.
Those who hold senior or important positions in blacklisted organizations will be denied entry, as well as key activists, even if they hold no official position. Mayors and establishment figures who actively and continually promote boycotts will also be prevented from entering, as will activists who arrive to Israel on behalf of or as part of a delegation initiated by one of blacklisted groups.
The full list
■ France-Palestine Solidarity Association
■ BDS France
■ BDS Italy
■ The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
■ Friends of Al-Aqsa
■ Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
■ The Palestine Committee of Norway
■ Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden
■ Palestine Solidarity Campaign
■ War on Want
■ BDS Kampagne
■ American Friends Service Committee
■ American Muslims for Palestine
■ Code Pink
■ Jewish Voice for Peace
■ National Students for Justice in Palestine
■ US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
■ BDS Chile
■ BDS South Africa
■ BDS National Committee
Israel imposes 'apartheid regime' on Palestinians: U.N. report
By Reuters Staff - 15. March 2017
BEIRUT/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.
U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer - a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.
The report concluded "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." The accusation - often directed at Israel by its critics - is fiercely rejected by Israel. (bit.ly/2mJh0eN)
U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.
ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the U.N. secretariat.
“The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres),” said Dujarric, adding that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.
The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the report.
“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in a statement.
The Israeli ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, commenting on Twitter, also noted the report had not been endorsed by the U.N. secretary-general.
“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.
Slideshow ( 2 images )
The report said it had established on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.”
“However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative,” it added.
The report said the “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people” was the main method through which Israel imposes apartheid, with Palestinians divided into four groups oppressed through “distinct laws, policies and practices.”
It identified the four sets of Palestinians as: Palestinian citizens of Israel; Palestinians in East Jerusalem; Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and Palestinians living as refugees or in exile.
ESCWA hoped the report would inform further deliberations on the root causes of the problem in the United Nations, among member states, and in society, Khalaf said at an event to launch the report at ESCWA’s Beirut headquarters.
It was authored by Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.
Before leaving his post as U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories in 2014, Falk said Israeli policies bore unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
The United States accused him of being biased against Israel.
Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams, Lisa Shumaker and Frances Kerry
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.