Colonialism and apartheid
breach international law.
The 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment
of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) called it state-sanctioned
discriminatory "inhuman" racism "committed for the purpose of establishing
and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other
racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."
Apartheid is an international crime. The above definition builds on
the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid
a crime under the Court's jurisdiction. For 45 years, Israel flagrantly
breached the law.
ICERD's Article 3 calls apartheid a particularly egregious form of discrimination.
The Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute criminalized its practice.
Last March, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
(CERD) held its 80th session. It evaluated Israel's compliance under
ICERD provisions. In 1979, Israel became a signatory. Policy reform
didn't follow. Crimes against humanity continue.
CERD recognizes regional security and stability issues. At the same
time, violating international law provisions are prohibited. Israel
does it egregiously.
It said Israeli West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements "are not only
illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment
of human rights by the whole population, without distinction as to national
or ethnic origin."
Israel also violates provisions of other international human rights
and humanitarian laws. Discriminatory racism is institutionalized. So
is inequality with regard to education, health, society, family, nationality,
religion, work, and freedom from violence.
ICERD's Article 3 condemns "racial segregation and apartheid and undertake(s)
to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories
under (its) jurisdiction."
Article 4 condemns "all propaganda and all organizations which are based
on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons
of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt(s) to justify or promote
racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake(s) to adopt
immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement
to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard
to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...."
Under Article 5, “State Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate
racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of
everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic
origin, to equality before the law" in all respects.
Israel stands in fundamental violation. It didn't sign the Apartheid
Convention but accepted ICERD provisions.
In 1998, Palestinian human rights organizations began petitioning ICERD
to hold Israel accountable. Nonetheless, it systematically refuses to
comply with its international law obligations.
It also rejects Geneva. It calls the law discretionary, not binding.
Human rights authorities and legal experts profoundly disagree. The
Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights as well as the Human
Rights Committee maintain that human rights law applies to Occupied
Palestine. So does CERD.
It reviewed Israeli compliance in 1998, 2003, and 2012. Its March findings,
conclusions, observations, and recommendations are especially important.
Stronger language was used.
The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO) coordinated
written and oral statements of member groups.
They showed how Israel discriminates against non-Jews. They provided
numerous examples. They included family reunification prohibitions,
Bedouin ethnic cleansing, institutionalized inequality, settler violence,
settlement expansions on stolen Palestinian land, resource theft, home
demolitions, forced dispossessions, unequal justice, and Gaza's isolation.
CERD concluded that Israel systematically segregates and discriminates
against non-Jews. While states can treat citizens and aliens differently,
they cannot privilege individuals based on race, ethnicity or religion.
It said Israel doesn't distinguish between citizens and non-citizens.
It discriminates between Jews and non-Jews. Doing so is illegal.
Under its section titled "The Occupied Palestinian Territory, including
East Jerusalem, and the Occupied Syrian Golan," it said:
"The Committee is particularly appalled at the hermetic character of
the separation of two groups, who live on the same territory but do
not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access
to basic services and water resources."
"Such separation is concretized by the implementation of a complex combination
of movement restrictions consisting of the Wall, roadblocks, the obligation
to use separate roads and a permit regime that only impacts the Palestinian
population (Article 3 of the Convention)."
"The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Recommendation
19 (1995) concerning the prevention, prohibition and eradication of
all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid, and
urges the State party to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate
any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately
affect the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
and which violate the provisions of article 3 of the Convention."
CERD also addressed discriminatory zoning and planning. Palestinians
and Israeli Arabs rarely get construction permits. Building without
them assures demolitions. Israeli settlements get preferential treatment.
Palestinian land is stolen to accommodate them.
It rejected Israel's argument about military exigencies. It said Israel
must "ensure equal access to justice for all persons residing in territories
under the State Party's effective control." It denounced how it treats
Palestinian children, especially in its criminal justice system.
Apartheid within Israel was addressed. It noted "with increased concern
that Israeli society maintains Jewish and non-Jewish sectors, which
raises issues under article 3 of the Convention. Clarifications provided
by the delegation confirmed the Committee’s concerns in relation to
the existence of two systems of education, one in Hebrew and one in
Arabic, which except in rare circumstances remain impermeable and inaccessible
to the other community, as well as separate municipalities: Jewish municipalities
and the so-called 'municipalities of the minorities.' "
The 2011 Admissions Committees Law gives private ones full discretion
to reject applicants called "unsuitable to the social life of the community."
Doing so institutionalizes segregation. Unequal access is law. Housing
rights are unequally granted. Rights for non-Jews are disregarded. Israel
bears full responsibility.
It's obligated to "ensure equal access to land and property and to that
end, abrogate or rescind any legislation that does not comply with the
principle of non-discrimination."
It falls grievously short. Concerns were raised about Israel's 2009
Land Administration Law, the Land (Acquisition for Public Purpose) Ordinance's
2010 Amendment, and the Negev Development Authority Law's Amendment
the same year.
In 2000, five judges ruled on Ka’adan v. The Israel Lands Administration.
The called discriminatory housing and land policies illegal. CERD wants
it enforced. It said Israel should rescind its discriminatory Law for
the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.
It called it "legaliz[ing] the ongoing policy of home demolitions and
forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities."
It also wants Israel's Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law rescinded,
family reunifications legitimized, and discriminating against them on
the basis of ethnicity, race, national origin and/or religion prohibited.
It wants Durban Declaration and Program of Action provisions observed
in Occupied Palestine and within Israel.
CERD's observations and recommendations are important. Nonetheless,
it lacks enforcement authority. Israel takes full advantage. Nothing
whatever changed since last March.
Discriminatory repression continues. Human rights groups and Palestinian
supporters can't relent their pressure. Sustaining it is vital for redress.
Freedom and equality await next time. One day it really will arrive.
Maybe it'll be when least expected. Any time would suit Palestinians
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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