RAMALLAH: Palestinians have welcomed international organizations’ reports supporting their claim of Israeli racial discrimination against them for more than five decades.
UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories Michael Lynk concluded that the situation amounted to apartheid.
Lynk’s report, which was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council and published by Amnesty International on its website, examined the current human rights situation with a particular focus on the question of apartheid.
It found that Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories lived “under a single regime which differentiates its distribution of rights and benefits on the basis of national and ethnic identity, and which ensures the supremacy of one group over, and to the detriment of, the other.”
It set out how this system endowed “one racial-national-ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits, and privileges, while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule,” and concluded that this satisfied the “prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid.”
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Arab News: “Finally, this UN report confirms what we warned 22 years ago about the emergence of a racist apartheid regime, as it has been proven today that Israel practices oppression and persecution against the Palestinian people.
“The core issue is not revealing the incident, but what is being done about this matter. The world fails to impose sanctions on Israel for what it is doing against the Palestinian people.”
Barghouthi believed the report would form a solid basis for Palestinians to demand sanctions and a boycott of Israel and give the Palestinians hope to develop their struggle against apartheid, as happened in South Africa.
Senior Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin told Arab News: “We need to find a new word to describe the systemic discrimination against Palestinians in the state of Israel and the occupied territories because, by using the word ‘apartheid,’ the essence of the issue is lost when we differentiate between Israel and the apartheid regime of South Africa.
“The point is that many laws give Israeli Jews superiority over Palestinian citizens in the state of Israel, including the nation-state law and the citizenship law. In the Occupied Territories, there are two completely different legal systems for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians under which Jewish Israelis enjoy full human and civil rights while Israel severely limits Palestinian rights.
“From now on, the Palestinians must not be satisfied with their struggle to overthrow the (Israeli) occupation. They must get rid of the Israeli apartheid regime that affects the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinian diaspora."
While the report upset Israeli hawks, Hamas welcomed it.
“We in Hamas value Lynk's call to the international community to take immediate action to help end the (Israeli) occupation's crimes and protect the rights of our Palestinian people,” Jihad Taha, a spokesman for Hamas, said in a statement.
“Hamas stresses the importance of the report and considers it a new and essential addition to the series of positions and reports issued by international and human rights organizations; the latest of which is the Amnesty report, which documented the crimes and violations against our Palestinian people.”
Hamas renewed its call to the UN and the international community to take deterrent measures against the occupying power, activate the procedures to prosecute its leaders, work to end the occupation and give the Palestinian people their rights.