Israeli control in occupied territories 'is a breach of the prohibition of apartheid'
The following international report concluding that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories "has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid" was sent out by journalist Ben White. Another stinging statement from the report: "The Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a policy permanently to divide the West Bank into racial cantons." (White's book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide', will be published this summer. He can be contacted at email@example.com)
In January 2007, while addressing the UN Human Rights Council in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, South African law Professor John Dugard asked the following question:
Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT. At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law. What are the legal consequences of a regime of prolonged occupation with features of colonialism and apartheid for the occupied people, the Occupying Power and third States?
The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (and specifically, their Middle East Project) "commissioned this study to test the hypothesis" put forward by Dugard. Beginning in February 2008, fifteen months of workshops, drafting, re-drafting and revision finally produced this report for publication.
Aim and focus
The aim of the project "was to scrutinise the situation from the nonpartisan perspective of international law, rather than engage in political discourse and rhetoric". The conclusion is that "Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid".
The study also focuses on "the responsibility of States as a result of internationally wrongful acts", concluding:
Faced with a violation of the prohibitions of colonialism and apartheid, all States have three duties: to cooperate to end the violation; not to recognise the illegal situation arising from it; and not to render aid or assistance to the State committing it.
On the legal framework in the OPT:
"The occupied status of the West Bank was confirmed by the ICJ in the Wall advisory opinion. Israel's 'disengagement' from the Gaza Strip did not constitute the end of occupation because, despite the redeployment of its military ground forces from Gaza, it retains and exercises effective control over the territory."
"…Israel's administration of the OPT systematically breaches the law of armed conflict, both by disregarding the prohibition imposed on an Occupying Power not to alter the laws in force in occupied territory and by enforcing a dual and discriminatory legal regime on Jewish and Palestinian residents of the OPT. Israel grants to Jewish residents of the settlements in the OPT the protections of Israeli domestic law and subjects them to the jurisdiction of Israeli civil courts, while Palestinians living in the same territory are ruled under military law and subjected to the jurisdiction of military courts whose procedures violate international standards for the prosecution of justice. As a consequence of this bifurcated system, Jewish residents of the OPT enjoy freedom of movement, civil protections, and services denied to Palestinians. Palestinians are simultaneously denied the protections accorded to protected persons by international humanitarian law. This dual system has gained the imprimatur of Israel's High Court and constitutes a policy by the State of Israel to sustain two parallel societies in the OPT, one Jewish and the other Palestinian, and discriminate between these two groups by according very different rights, protections, and life chances in the same territory."
Findings on Colonialism:
"Although international law provides no single decisive definition of colonialism, the terms of the Declaration on Colonialism indicate that a situation may be classified as colonial when the acts of a State have the cumulative outcome that it annexes or otherwise unlawfully retains control over territory and thus aims permanently to deny its indigenous population the exercise of its right to self-determination. Five issues, which are unlawful in themselves, taken together make it evident that Israel's rule in the OPT has assumed such a colonial character: namely, violations of the territorial integrity of occupied territory; depriving the population of occupied territory of the capacity for self-governance; integrating the economy of occupied territory into that of the occupant; breaching the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources in relation to the occupied territory; and denying the population of occupied territory the right freely to express, develop and practice its culture."
"Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is manifestly an act based on colonial intent. It is unlawful in itself…"
"By thus partitioning contiguous blocs of Palestinian areas into cantons, Israel has violated the territorial integrity of the OPT in violation of the Declaration on Colonialism."
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Palestinian People are defending themselves and their Land and their Homes against Israeli war crimes and Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian.