Human Rights Watch has just issued a report labeling Israel as a practitioner of apartheid, the system of racial separation employed in South Africa before its transformation. Is this a fair assessment of current Israeli policies toward Palestinians?
Alan, thank you for these posts, and for engaging in the comment threads.
Is there anything to the argument that the GC does not apply here because the territories in question were not (legitimately) territory of another state at the time that Israel captured them (in, as you note, a defensive war)? I have seen this argument made by various pro-Israel commentators and it strikes me as highly compelling. But I am an outsider to these issues, so I can't render a judgment (so to speak).
Also, what is the standing of the Oslo Accords under international law? Does the fact that the PLO accepted the division of the territories in to Areas designated A, B, and C matter? Or have the accords effectively expired because they were mean to be transitory?
This is not an issue that can be resolved by definitions. When people from Europe spread out to take over the rest of the world, they interacted with the indigenous populations in a variety of ways. In Mexico and Central America, they settled and intermarried. In India, they carried out administrative functions for fixed periods and then retired back in England. In the United States and Argentina, they simply exterminated the indigenous peoples.
South Africa and Palestine represented yet another model, where the indigenous population was too large (and too needed) to exterminate, so the settlers took the land and subordinated, isolated and refused social equality with the indigenous population. I suspect that HRW and others have picked up the Apartheid sobriquet because of the similarity of the South African Bantustans and the remaining islands of the Palestinian population.
I have a few issues with this otherwise balanced opinion piece.
" a legitimate comparison to apartheid by allowing its own civilian population to settle in occupied territory, in violation of the Geneva Convention. "
I am not aware of any law or clause in the G.C. that requires the occupying power to prevent individuals from choosing to build homes on unowned, disputed land.
"The first of the six paragraphs in Article 49 is by far the most important, in that it prohibits the forcible transfer or deportation from occupied territory of protected persons.
There is doubtless no need to give an account here of the painful recollections called forth by the "deportations" of the Second World War, for they are still present in everyone's memory."
There is no "transfer", and no "forcible" involved in Jews choosing to build homes anywhere in Judea and Samaria.
"This has established two classes of residents, one with full citizenship rights and one with none."
Not exactly. As was pointed out, over 90% of the Palestinian Arab population living in areas A and B are citizens of the Palestinian Authority.
"It has also led to the building of a separate infrastructure, of roads and utilities, for the benefit of one group only."
Again, there is no legal impediment to the P.A. building roads, towns (e.g. Rawabi), digging wells in Areas A and B which are entirely under P.A. civil control, or in Gaza, under Hamas.
"It is also enforced segregation and inequality."
I am not clear on how that conclusion is reached in view of the autonomy of the P.A. and Hamas.
"those on the right who denounce any criticism of Israel as antisemitism."
There is an internationally accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism which specifically excludes criticism of Israeli policies from such denigration.
Falsely accusing Israel of "apartheid" however', like accusing Israel of being a "Nazi state", are delegitimizing terms meant to demonize the country and its people, and to prepare the groundwork for acceptance of calls for its dissolution. When directed at the only Jewish state on earth (and no other state), that is clearly "antisemitism" by any definition.