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Israel and apartheid

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Author: Jim Chapman

Israel remains the belligerent occupant of the OPT as they are territories over which Israel does not possess sovereignty but only a temporary right of administration. Consequently, Israel must abide by the relevant rules of the law of armed conflict—principally the provisions of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949—in its administration of the territories. Israel would be under no obligation to grant them citizenship, just as Israelis living in Palestine (Jews who choose to remain in Maaleh Adumim or Hebron, for example, former 'settlers') would retain Israeli citizenship. This addresses Israeli concerns about the integrity of their state. Israel is building what it calls a security wall between the West Bank and Israel. Not only that, it weaves its way through Palestinian farms, separating farmers from their land.

Israel is an active instance of this model. If you wish to find an instructive parallel, look not at South Africa. Israel launched a massive campaign to destroy the PLO throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 1990s, and with the demise of the PLO's main backers such as the Soviet bloc and Iraq, Israel capitalized on the opportunity, and worked to transform the PLO from a liberation movement to a 'state-building' project that was launched by the signing of the Oslo accords, seven months before South Africa's first free election. Israel, of course, argues that its policies do not constitute apartheid. It claims that there's no racial discrimination in its practices or policies.

Israel is not an apartheid state ? Indeed, Arab representatives in the Knesset, who continuously call for dismantling the Jewish state, support the Hezbollah, etc., enjoy more freedom than many Western democracies give their internal Oppositions. Israel has appropriated land and water in the OPT, merged the Palestinian economy with Israel's economy, and imposed a system of domination over Palestinians to ensure their subjugation to these measures. Through these measures, Israel has denied the indigenous population the right to self-determination and indicated clear intention to assume sovereignty over portions of its land and natural resources. Israel subjected the besieged population of Gaza to three weeks of unrelenting state terror. Israeli warplanes targeted and bombed densely populated civilian areas, using illegal munitions, such as white phosphorous, and reduced whole neighbourhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble, not to mention its wilful mass destruction of agricultural land.

Israel has announced the construction of a further 500 km of roads to reinforce this apartheid road network. This will ensure that Palestinian residential areas are nothing more than enclosed islands, totally isolated among the settlements and their road system. Israel's was one. That the only charge Ignatieff can come up with about this is that it was "singling out one state" is a testament to the bankruptcy of the attack on WCAR. Israeli law conveys privileges to Jewish settlers and disadvantages Palestinians in the same territory on the basis of their respective identities, which function in this case as racialised identities in the sense provided by international law. Israel's practices are corollary to five of the six 'inhuman acts' listed by the Convention.

Israel must be isolated until such time as it dismantles its system of apartheid, respects international law and abides by the norms of civilised behaviour. Israeli Apartheid supporters claim that Israel is a democracy because of its equal treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel. However, those Palestinians who managed to remain on their land and became Israeli citizens are deliberately denied equal access to social services and the material resources of the state.

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