Israel is not a democracy, but an “apartheid regime” that imposes Jewish supremacy over all the land it controls, a leading national rights group said in a position paper that should provoke fierce controversy.
“One organizational principle underlies a wide range of Israeli policies: advancing and maintaining the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another ̵
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in the United Kingdom, Ohad Zemet, dismissed the report as a “propaganda tool”. He added: “Israel rejects the false allegations in the so-called A report because it is not based on reality, but on a distorted ideological view. “
B’Tselem said he rejected the dominant assumption that Israel ruled two separate systems of government at the same time – democracy on its sovereign territory, while retaining half a century of military power over the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
“Israel is not a democracy with a temporary occupation,” said Haggai El-Ad, the body’s executive director. “This is a regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and we need to look at the full picture and see what it is: apartheid.”
These areas include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordanian forces during the 1967 war, and the Gaza Strip, which it took from Egypt in the same conflict and where its troops remained until 2005.
The shift to perceptions of apartheid claims is part of an activist-led movement that has gained momentum following Israeli threats of annexation, which they say proves the occupation is constant, as well as recent laws governing additional political rights for Jews over Arabs.
Another Israeli human rights group, Yesh Dean, issued a legal statement last summer claiming that apartheid was taking place in the West Bank.
However, B’Tselem’s report goes further, arguing that Israel has created a system throughout the territory to which Jewish citizens have full rights. He, meanwhile, argues that Palestinians are divided into four levels with different levels of rights depending on where they live, but always under the Jewish people.
At the lowest end, the report said, are approximately 2 million Palestinians in the deeply impoverished Gaza Strip, ruled by the Hamas militant group but blocked by Israel in a policy that B’Selem says gives it “effective control.”
Above them, B’Tellem said, are approximately 2.7 million Palestinian “subjects” in the West Bank, living in “dozens of unrelated enclaves, under strict military rule and without political rights.”
Under agreements signed in the 1990s, the Palestinians in the West Bank have limited self-government, although B’Tselem said the Palestinian Authority was “still under Israel’s control and could only exercise its limited powers with Israel’s consent.”
Next in the hierarchy are about 350,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. Israel has offered citizenship to these residents, although many have refused in principle and for those who are trying, the process has a high rejection rate.
At the highest level of B’Tselem are the Palestinian citizens of Israel, also called Arab-Israelis, who have full citizenship and make up about one-fifth of Israelis. However, B’Tselem said they also behave under Jewish citizens, citing land discrimination, immigration laws that favor Jews, and a law that gives Jews additional political rights.
In response, Zemet, the Israeli diplomat, said that all Israeli citizens have full rights, with Arabs “represented in all branches of government – in the Israeli parliament, in the courts (including the Supreme Court), in the public service and even in the diplomatic corps, where they represent the state of Israel around the world. “
In 2017, the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia became the first UN body to accuse Israel of apartheid, a crime under international law, a move that the former Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman likened to Nazi propaganda.
Last year, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intended to annex parts of the West Bank, 47 UN experts warned that “this would be a crystallization of an already unfair reality: two peoples living in the same space ruled by from the same country, but with deeply unequal rights. “
They added: “This is a vision for 21st century apartheid.”
Netanyahu stopped his ambitions for annexation. Several Israeli and Palestinian rights groups, including B’Tselem, claim that Israel is already implementing a “de facto” annexation of the West Bank, with more than 400,000 Jewish settlers living there and enjoying the same rights and many of the same services. like the other Israelis.