Rights groups hail new Israeli ‘apartheid’ report

Rights groups hail new Israeli ‘apartheid’ report
Children walk in front of a mural painted on part of Israel’s controversial barrier at Aida refugee camp in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 14, 2012. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Rights groups hail new Israeli ‘apartheid’ report

Rights groups hail new Israeli ‘apartheid’ report
  • B’Tselem slams policy of ‘advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians’
  • Report is crucial to ‘challenging the false notion’ that democracy, occupation can coexist, expert tells Arab News

LONDON: A new report by Israel’s most prominent human rights organization that labels the country an “apartheid regime” has been hailed by rights groups.

The ground-breaking paper, published by B’Tselem on Tuesday, says Israel “is not a democracy” but an “apartheid regime” that enforces Jewish supremacy, in warnings that echo those made by Palestinian rights groups.

“One organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: Advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians,” the report said.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, said: “Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it. It is one regime between the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: Apartheid.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council of Arab-British Understanding, said the report is an “important step” by the “most respected” Israeli rights group, and has been a “long time coming.” 

Palestinian and Arab rights groups have been using the apartheid description for decades, he added.

The report is crucial to “challenging the false notion” that democracy and occupation can coexist, and Israel’s two-tiered rights system is proof of that falsehood, Doyle said.

He added that the coronavirus pandemic highlights the “parallel worlds” that the two peoples inhabit within the state, where Israelis “have greater rights” than Palestinians and receive superior health and medical care.

As Israel is an occupying power under international law, it has an explicit legal obligation to provide adequate healthcare to Palestinians, something it has failed to do, he said.

The use of apartheid as a description must fit specific legal terminology, and Israel’s “systemic discrimination based on race” means the term can be fairly applied in this case, Doyle added. Despite B’Tselem’s promising move, he warned: “It’s hard to see how the occupation ends.”

The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign praised the report as “immensely important” after B’Tselem “added its voice to the chorus recognizing that Israel is an apartheid state.”

Israeli rights group Yesh Din published a legal opinion last year that also argued that apartheid is being committed.

In 2017, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia became the first UN body to label Israel an apartheid regime.

But the UN leadership did not support the report’s publication and it was wiped from its website.

Last year, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would annex parts of the West Bank, UN experts warned that it “would be the crystallization of an already unjust reality: Two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights.” They added: “This is a vision of a 21st-century apartheid.”


Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
A military vehicle is stationed on the tarmac of Yemen’s Aden airport. Yemen says the Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace to the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2021

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
  • International community urged not to surrender to ‘blackmailing and intimidation’ 
  • Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace, Yemen PM said

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s prime minister has vowed to address any impact on humanitarian assistance or the remittances of citizens abroad following the US move to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed also urged the international community not to surrender to “Houthi blackmailing” and intimidation.
Saeed defended his government’s strong support of the designation during a virtual interview with foreign journalists sponsored by the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that his government had formed a committee to handle any effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Houthi-controlled areas and the remittances of Yemenis abroad.
“We are determined to prevent any impact of the decision on the Yemenis. We have formed a committee to mitigate effects of the decision,” he said.
When the US announced its intention to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization last week, Yemen’s government quickly urged the US administration to put the decision in place, predicting it would stop Houthi crimes and their looting of humanitarian assistance, and would smoothe the way for peace.
Referring to the impact of the US designation on peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, Saeed said that the decision would not undermine peace efforts. He said that the Houthis would be accepted as part of the Yemeni political and social spectrum when they abandoned hard-line ideologies and embraced equality and justice.

The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, Yemen’s prime minister

“This is an important pressure card on them and a real definition of them,” he said, adding that the Yemenis would not allow the Houthi movement to rule them.
“Yemen would not be ruled by a racist and terrorist group,” he said.
Formed under the Riyadh Agreement, Yemen’s new government’s ministers narrowly escaped death on Dec. 30 when three precision-guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after their plane touched down.
The government accused the Houthis of staging the attack, saying that missile fragments collected from the airport showed that they were similar to missiles that targeted Marib city in the past.
The prime minister said that the Yemeni government had offered many concessions to reach an agreement to end the war. It had agreed to engage in direct talks with the Houthis in Stockholm in 2018 despite the fact that the Yemeni government forces were about to seize control of the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. However, the Stockholm Agreement had failed to bring peace to Yemen, he said.
“The government forces were about to capture the city within five days maximum. The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed,” Saeed said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Friday appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghar, a former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, as president of the Shoura Council.
Hadi also appointed Ahmed Ahmed Al-Mousai as the country’s new attorney general.
Fighting continues
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis broke out on Sunday for the third consecutive day in contested areas in the districts of Hays and Durihimi in the western province of Hodeidah. Official media said that dozens of Houthi rebels and several government troops were killed in the fighting and loyalists pushed back three assaults by Houthis in Durihimi district.
In neighboring Hays, the Joint Forces media said on Sunday that the Houthis hit government forces with heavy weapons before launching a ground attack in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the district.
The Houthis failed to make any gains and lost dozens of fighters along with several military vehicles that were burnt in the fighting, the same media outlets said. Heavy artillery shelling and land mines planted by the Houthis have killed more than 500 civilians since late 2018, local rights groups said.