Israel is not a democracy, it is an ‘apartheid regime’, says rights group

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B’Tselem, who so far has limited his work to examining human rights issues in the Palestinian territories, has also decided to look into what he calls Israel’s “regime” between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

“More than 14 million people, about half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under one rule,” B’Tselem said in a new analysis titled: “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea: it is apartheid. ”

The human rights group says the traditional view of Israel as a democracy operating side by side with a temporary Israeli occupation in the territories “imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects … has drifted away from reality. “.

“More importantly, the distinction obscures the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under one principle: to advance and consolidate the supremacy of one group – the Jews – over another – the Palestinians,” B ‘Tselem said in his controversial analysis.

Years of injustice against the Palestinians, resulting in laws that entrenched discrimination, mean that “the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been reached,” B’Tselem said.

The claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” has often been dismissed by right-wing Israelis and their support groups as anti-Semitic. But that argument will be harder to make now that Israel has been labeled this way by such a respected Israeli institution, even though it only enjoys minority support in its home country.

The Israeli Embassy in London dismissed the report as “not based on reality but on a distorted ideological view”.

“The fact that B’Tselem chose not to present the report to the Israeli government for comment is testament to the fact that it is nothing more than a propaganda tool. Israel rejects the false allegations of the so-called report… Israel is a strong and vibrant democracy which gives full rights to all its citizens regardless of religion, race or gender. Arab citizens of Israel are represented in all branches of government – in the Israeli parliament, in courts (including the Supreme Court), in the public service, and even in the diplomatic corps where they represent the State of Israel. in the world. ”

Over the past decade, Israel’s traditional allies have become increasingly concerned, especially in Europe, that the continued loss of Palestinian territory to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal under the law international, not only jeopardized a long-term peace process. but Israel’s moral position.

These concerns were highlighted with the adoption in 2018 of the “Basic Law: Israel – the nation-state of the Jewish people” – which enshrined Israel as a Jewish state in its constitution – and reinforced by the promises Israeli politicians. , notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to unilaterally annex large areas of the West Bank.

Israel captured and occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. The Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the first of which was signed in 1993, were said to lead to a “two-state solution” establishing an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Twenty-eight years later, there is no sign of this outcome.

Rather, B’Tselem argues that Israel has entrenched discrimination against non-Jews in areas under its control.

These include fewer rights for Palestinians living in Israel with Israeli citizenship (17% of the population). The most obvious example, B’Tselem says, is the fact that non-Jews cannot emigrate to Israel. Palestinians who marry an Israeli need official Israeli permission to settle in Israel.

In the West Bank, Jewish settlements are under continuous construction, while building permission for Palestinians in areas officially under Israeli security control is almost unobtainable and “illegal” structures are frequently bulldozed.

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Freedom of assembly and expression is also severely restricted for Palestinians in the West Bank, argues the human rights group, while it is largely unlimited for Jews.

Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem: “Israel is not a democracy with a temporary occupation attached: it is a regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and we have to look at the big picture. and see it for what it is: apartheid. This sobering look at reality should not lead to despair, but on the contrary. It is a call for change. After all, people created this diet and people can change it. ”

Between 1948 and 1994, South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and “separate development” was designed to confine non-whites to “autonomous Bantustans”, stripping them of their citizenship and placing them under the administration of puppet diets that looked like discontinuous inkblots. on a map.

The Palestinian Authority, established under Oslo, administers the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank, but they are largely confined to urban areas separated by Israeli-controlled territory and generally barred from traveling on routes primarily reserved for Jewish settlers and other Israelis. .

B’Tselem officials said they wanted the international community to “act” on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians.

But they declined to question whether the “action” included calls for international economic and cultural sanctions of the kind that were imposed on apartheid South Africa before it was liberated by a government. series of measures that led to the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

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