A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.
The report commissioned by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The accusation – often directed at Israel by its critics – is fiercely rejected by the Jewish state.
U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israeli is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.
Israeli officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Khalaf was speaking at an event to launch the report at ESCWA’s Beirut headquarters. ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia, according to its website. Its aims include to support economic and social development in member states. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.
The report said it had established on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid”. “However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative,” it added.
The report said the “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people” was the main method through which Israel imposes apartheid, with Palestinians divided into four groups oppressed through “distinct laws, policies and practices”.
It identified the four sets of Palestinians as: Palestinian citizens of Israel; Palestinians in East Jerusalem; Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and Palestinians living as refugees or in exile.
ESCWA hoped the report would inform further deliberations on the root causes of the problem in the United Nations, among member states, and in society, Khalaf said. ESCWA also hoped it would prompt action.
It was authored by Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.
Before leaving his post as U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories in 2014, Falk said Israeli policies bore unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
The United States accused him of being biased against Israel.
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams)
Tempest at U.N. Over Report Saying Israel Practices Apartheid
A United Nations commission said in a report on Wednesday that Israel practices apartheid against Palestinians, a politically explosive assertion that led to furious denunciations by Israel and the United States.
The secretary general of the United Nations quickly disassociated himself from the report, which seemed bound to aggravate the already tense relationship between the world body and the Trump administration.
It also could provide momentum to advocates of an international movement to boycott Israel. Just over a week ago, Israel’s Parliament passed a law barring entry to foreigners who have publicly supported that movement, known as B.D.S. — boycott, divestment and sanctions.
The report was published by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, composed entirely of Arab member states; most do not recognize Israel.
One of the authors of the report was Richard Falk, an American law professor and former United Nations human rights investigator whom critics regard as an anti-Israel extremist. He has been refused entry to Israel for what Israeli leaders have described as his hostile point of view.
The report comes amid a hardening polarization on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with vastly diminished hopes for a two-state solution, a pillar of diplomatic efforts for the past two decades.
Many Israelis have become emboldened, and Palestinians disheartened, over what to expect from the Trump administration, which has emphatically sided with Israel and raised doubts about whether a two-state solution should be pursued.
A special negotiator appointed by President Trump, Jason Greenblatt, visited Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week as part of an undertaking to maintain diplomatic evenhandedness.
Apartheid, the institutionalized oppression once practiced against the black majority in South Africa during white-minority rule, has been used increasingly by critics of the Israeli government to describe its policies toward the Palestinians in territories occupied or controlled by Israel.
Israelis, including many of those who disagree with those policies, find the term deeply offensive, describing it as a false and inflammatory analogy aimed at isolating and delegitimizing their country.
An executive summary of the report on the United Nations commission’s website called it a study to examine, “based on key instruments of international law, whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report concluded that the answer was yes, based on what it called the fragmentation of the Palestinian population, Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ movements and other limits imposed on Palestinians but not on Israelis.
Tags: Apartheid, apartheid regime, ESCWA, Israel, Palestinian people, Richard Falk, U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, U.N. human rights investigator, U.N. Report, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, U.N. Under-Secretary General