U.N. rights envoy points to apartheid in Palestinian areas

GENEVA Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:16am EST

GENEVA (Reuters) - Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to amount to apartheid due to its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and de facto expropriation of their land, a United Nations investigator said in a report.

Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said that Palestinian rights are being violated by Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory and "ethnic cleansing" of East Jerusalem.

Gaza, despite the disengagement of Israel in 2005, remains "occupied" under an unlawful Israeli blockade that controls borders, airspace and coastal waters, and especially hurts farmers and fishermen, he said. The humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled enclave is dire amid fuel shortages, he added.

U.N. member states should consider imposing a ban on imports of produce from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Falk said in his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council after serving six years in the independent post.

In a section entitled "acts potentially amounting to segregation and apartheid", he analyzed Israeli policies, including "continuing excessive use of force by Israeli security forces" and unlawful killings that he said are "part of acts carried out in order to maintain dominance over Palestinians".

Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to military laws, while Jewish settlers face a civil law system, he said. Israel also violates their rights to work and education, freedoms of movement and residence, and of expression and assembly, he said.

Ten years ago the U.N.'s International Court of Justice ruled that Israel's separation wall inside the West Bank is illegal, he noted. Israel says it is a security barrier.

"It seems incontestable that Israeli measures do divide the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory along racial lines, create separate reserves for Palestinians and expropriate their land," Falk wrote in his 22-page report.

"The combined effect of the measures designed to ensure security for Israeli citizens, to facilitate and expand settlements, and, it would appear, to annex land is hafrada (the Hebrew word for separation), discrimination and systematic oppression of, and domination over, the Palestinian people."

There was no immediate reaction from Israel, which boycotted the council it accuses of bias for 19 months, returning in October 2013. The Jewish state left after accusing the forum of bias when it set up a fact-finding mission on the settlements.


Falk, an American law professor who is Jewish, has long been a controversial figure. After taking up the post in May 2008, he compared Israeli forces' actions in the Gaza Strip to those of the Nazis in wartime Europe.

Months later, he was detained at Ben Gurion airport and deported by Israeli authorities after being barred from crossing into Palestinian areas to carry out his investigation.

Last June he said he would not resign and accused critics of calling him anti-Semitic to divert attention from his scrutiny of Israeli policies. [ID:nL5N0EN231] U.N. Watch, an activist group that Falk labels as a 'pro-Israel lobbying organization', and the United States had called for him to quit.

Falk said in his latest report that businesses and countries should examine who profits from the "settlements of Israel and other unlawful Israeli activities" and take appropriate steps.

"Considering the fact that the European Union remains one of the most important trading partners for the settlements, with annual exports worth $300 million, a ban on settlement produce would have a significant impact," he said.

His previous appeals for divestment have brought results and have encouraged governments to be more vigilant, he said.

Royal HaskoningDHV, a Dutch company, ended a contract with Jerusalem's municipality to build a wastewater treatment plant in East Jerusalem and a Swedish-Norwegian bank Nordea excluded Cemex from its investment portfolio due to its extraction of non-renewable natural resources from Palestine, according to Falk.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (9)
Tiu wrote:
In Israel it is illegal to call for a boycott of the occupied territories. The sanction is you are liable to be sued for unspecified damages with the appellant under no obligation to provide evidence of the damage. Crazy, but true.
Of course Apartheid Israel should be boycotted, just as Apartheid South Africa was. But no doubt this report will be denied and ignored by Israel, they will just turn their backs and snuggle in to Uncle Sam’s protective embrace.

Feb 24, 2014 12:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
VultureTX wrote:

apartheid tell that to the 1 million+ arabs who are israeli citizens.

is it apartheid to not give equal status to a “separate people aka palestinians who call for your destruction and to this year attack your civilians?

/as for the world courts, whatever they rule again Israel, they can’t have enforced because they don’t rule again palestine for terrorisism and human rights abuses of their own citizens. So good luck getting an EU boycott to stick based on a court ruling.

//so when is Jordan going to be brought up in “world courts” for Apartheid against palesintians? They have been doing the same as Israel since ’47. oh wait they are’nt “dirty joos”. anti semitic actions go figure.

Feb 24, 2014 12:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
tergen wrote:
Yes. Outrageous that the Palestinian Arabs have never been offered a peace settlement. It’s amazing that just because they’re dedicated to the annihilation of Israel that Israel distrusts them.

Why should the Jews be allowed to live in peace? Israel would be enriched by allowing five or six million additional Palestinians to immigrate. Living under Islamic rule would give the Jews some discipline and structure.

I have a third cousin twice removed who was displaced when his nice Arab neighbors decided to kill all the Jews in 1948. With my refugee status I’d like to move in.

And it would be a peaceful annihilation. In twenty or thirty years no one would even miss the Jews. And if they did, they could apply for ghetto visitation rights.

I’ve studied the history of the last two months. That should be enough to size up the situation. It would just take too much effort to recall the last 65 years or 5000 years for that matter.

Feb 24, 2014 1:38pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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