JERUSALEM: Amnesty International said on Tuesday that Israel is an “apartheid” state that treats Palestinians as “an inferior racial category,” joining a chorus of other human rights organisations in making the claim, which the Jewish state has categorically denied.
‘Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession, and exclusion across all territories under its control make up apartheid,’ says Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard.
In Israel, Palestinians are viewed as a second-class, racial group, and their rights are consistently denied to them, whether they dwell in Gaza, east Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself.
According to Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the assertions are “divorced from reality” and that “Amnesty International repeats falsehoods produced by terrorist organisations.” When the Israeli-based rights group B’Tselem claimed Israeli policies were intended to establish “Jewish domination from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” and that they fit the definition of “apartheid,” it received widespread condemnation.
Human Rights Watch, in New York, was the first major international rights organisation to publicly raise the contentious charge, which was made in April of last year.
The research by Amnesty International, based in London, extends on those prior requests by saying that Israeli-enforced apartheid occurs in the occupied Palestinian territories and within Israel itself, where Arab people account for over 20% of the population. In a statement, Amnesty International stated it was not comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to conditions in apartheid-era South Africa, but that Israeli actions and policies fit the criteria for the international crime of apartheid, according to international law.
Israel’s foreign ministry has called on Amnesty International to “withdraw” its report on the country.
According to Lapid, Amnesty was once a well-regarded organisation that everyone admired. “Today, however, the situation is completely reversed.”
The alternate prime minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, said that while Israel “is not flawless,” it is a democracy that adheres to international law and is open to world inspection.
He further claimed that Amnesty International was pursuing an anti-Semitic agenda. As he put it, “I despise using the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, no one in Amnesty would dare to argue against it, but there is no other option in this case.”