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Amnesty International accuses Israel of imposing a policy of apartheid on Palestinians

FILE PHOTO: Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister-designate, sits near an Israeli flag at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, before the start of a special session whereby a confidence vote will be held to approve a new coalition government, in Jerusalem June 13, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

On Tuesday, Amnesty International accused Israel of subjecting Palestinians to an apartheid regime based on policies of “segregation, dispossession, and exclusion,” which it described as crimes against humanity.

The news: The findings were based on research and legal analysis in a 211-page report concerning Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land and property, unlawful executions, forceful relocation of people, and denial of citizenship, according to the London-based rights group.

  • The report, the second in less than a year accusing Israel of implementing an apartheid strategy, Israel said, “consolidates and recycles lies” from hate groups and was intended to “throw fuel on the flames of antisemitism.”
  • Amnesty UK was accused of adopting “double standards and demonization in order to delegitimize Israel,” according to the report.
  • Palestinians have praised the report.
FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian demonstrator runs past burning tires during a protest over tension in Jerusalem and Israel-Gaza escalation, near Hawara checkpoint near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta/File Photo

What’s going on: Amnesty claimed Israel was enforcing a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians “wherever it has control over their rights”, including Arab citizens of Israel, Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territory and refugees living abroad.

  • Restriction on Palestinian movement in the land occupied in the 1967 Middle East conflict, underinvestment in Palestinian towns in Israel, and preventing Palestinian refugees from returning were among the tactics.
  • Alongside forcible transfers, torture and unlawful killings, which Amnesty said were intended to maintain a system of “oppression and domination”, they constitute “the crime against humanity of apartheid”.
FILE PHOTO: Palestinians wait to cross into Jerusalem next to Israel’s disputed barrier at an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, July 7, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

What they’re saying: In a statement, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny” with a free press and a strong Supreme Court.

  • “I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” he said.
  • Bassam Al-Salhe, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said it “confirms and supports the long-standing Palestinian position towards the nature of the Israeli occupation measures. It reflects the real status on the ground.”
FILE PHOTO: Palestinians seek to cross into Jerusalem via Israel’s Qalandiya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah during the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, August 20, 2010. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

The backstory: Israel has imposed travel restrictions on Palestinians, citing security concerns following an uprising in the early 2000s that included suicide bombings in Israeli cities.

  • Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want their own state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Gaza, a small coastal strip that Israel also conquered in the 1967 conflict but abandoned in 2005, is administered by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the West.
  • In 2014, the most recent round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed.

What Amnesty wants: The United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo on Israel for killing dozens of civilians during weekly protests on the Gaza border in 2018-19. Attempts by Palestinian terrorists to break Israel’s border fence were among the protests, according to Israel.

  • Amnesty International also urged the International Criminal Court to explore the charge of apartheid in its investigation into suspected war crimes committed by both sides in the Palestinian territory during numerous periods of warfare.
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