Friday, February 23, 2007

Israel, Apartheid and the Occupied Territories.

Although a UN report is unlikely to convince any supporters of Israels policies in Gaza and the West Bank, since many see the UN as anti-Israel, its likening of Israel's policy to apartheid should, however, be taken serious, considering the background of the author.

According to the this Guardian article South African Law Professor John Duggard, in a report for the UN Human Rights Council, states "Israel's laws and practices in the OPT [occupied Palestinian territories] certainly resemble aspects of apartheid." Duggard's opinion is apparently based on policies such as "closed zones, demolitions and preference given to settlers on roads, with building rights and by the army."

As South African lawyer Duggard should be in a position to make such a statement. I can only welcome such a report as I have previously defended Jimmy Carters use of the word apartheid (which after all simply means "separateness")to the describe the situation in Palestine

Whether or not Israels policies are justified, taking into account all the circumstances, is another question. To deny its similarities with apartheid is, however, in my opinion dishonest.


At 23 February, 2007 20:08, Anonymous Kiersten said...

Hey Torsten, Kiersten here, hope you don't mind if I put in my two cents worth :-)

After reading your comments in a previous discussion, I have given this whole situation a lot of thought. As always you help me see things in a different light, which I have always appreciated. I certainly agree that the Palestinian people are not living a life that I would want for myself or my children.

My understanding is that Gaza and the West bank do not want to be part of Israel. They have their own Palestinian government (worthless though it seems to be) and they want to be a completely independent nation. If they really are (or are becoming) sovereign, does Israel not have the right to fence off it's borders? I realize that this makes it more difficult on Palestinians who just want to make a living and cannot do that without their jobs in Israel. But I think that we are going to have to make a choice. Either Israel has the right to the West bank and the Gaza Strip, because they won it in war, or Israel needs to be able to protect it borders from the people who want to blow them up.

If Israel does have a right to this land, then I would say yes they are practicing apartheid. If the West bank and Gaza were declared to be apart of Israel, then they would have a responsibility to integrate Palestinians into their government and way of life. But if we are going to tell Israel that they have to give this land to the Palestinians to make their own sovereign nation, I don't think that we can condemn Israel for putting up fences and limiting access into Israel by a nation who leaders call for Israel's destruction.

I agree with you that if Israel is stilling pushing settlements further into the West Bank they should stop. If they are going to put up this border, they should not act like they have a right to more land on the West Bank. If they are going to treat the West Bank like it is not part of Israel, by building this border they should give up claim to land falling beyond the border. If they are going to treat the West Bank and Gaza like it is theirs, and they have a right to since they won it from Egypt and Jordan in a war, then they need to treat the people in these territories like citizens and the terrorists like criminals. I feel like the world also needs to make this choice. We can not go on telling Israel that they have to give the Palestinians free access to Israel to work ect. And then expect Israel to sit back and not do anything when they are attacked by a neighboring country.

At 02 March, 2007 00:11, Blogger Torsten Pedersen said...

Kiersten, I actually agree with you on the fence.

Israel has every right to put up the fence and it even seems to be working. The problem is, however, the land taken by Israel in building the fence inside the West Bank. Critics, such as Duggard, see this as a 'land grab' by consolidating Israeli settlements. I'm not so sure. What is beyond doubt, however, is that the fence has made life difficult, if not impossible, for thousands of Palestinians.

I also agree with you in your identification of the central question for a resolution of the conflict: On what principle should sovereignty of the land be decided? Does Israel, for example, have the right to what has been won in war? Or should the population of the land decide it status, and does that include all displaced persons?

I believe in the right of all people to self determination. Colonization is a denial of such a right.


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