On 3 February 2020, a group of 13 Palestinian, regional, and international civil society organisations sent a joint written submission on Israeli apartheid over the Palestinian people to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council ahead of its 43rd regular session, which will begin on 24 February 2020. Submitting the report under item 9 of the Council’s agenda, on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, the organisations highlighted Israel’s creation and maintenance of an apartheid regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, and argued that further fragmentation of the Palestinian people, including as a result of the Trump administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century,” will only serve to entrench Israeli apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.
As warned by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, the recently-announced United States (US) plan “is not a recipe for a just and durable peace but rather endorses the creation of a 21st century Bantustan in the Middle East” consisting of “scattered archipelagos of non-contiguous territory completely surrounded by Israel.” Yet, a number of third States have welcomed the plan announced by the US administration, gravely defying the rules-based international order and their own obligations not to recognise as lawful situations resulting from breaches of peremptory norms of international law, and to cooperate to bring such breaches to an end.
Recalling civil society engagement with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for Israel’s review in December 2019, the organisations argued that Israel has consolidated its apartheid regime by entrenching the fragmentation of the Palestinian people, through the persistent denial of Palestinian refugee return and the imposition of restrictions on freedom of movement, residency, and access, in particular the closures of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and the denial of family unification for Palestinians. The organisations also recalled the concluding observations adopted by CERD on 12 December 2019, which recognised the continuity of Israeli policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid targeting Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Accordingly, the civil society groups called on the Human Rights Council and UN Member States to:
- Recognise Israeli laws, policies, and practices enshrining an institutionalised regime of systematic racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, as amounting to apartheid, giving rise to both State responsibility and individual criminal responsibility of the perpetrator;
- Undo Israel’s strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people by reiterating and welcoming the CERD concluding observations on Israel, which highlighted the continuity of Israeli policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid over Palestinians in violation of Article 3 of ICERD, and recognise Israel’s apartheid regime as targeting the Palestinian people as a whole, including Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and Palestinian refugees and exiles abroad;
- Refrain in their international relations from rendering aid or assistance in the maintenance of Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, including by opposing the US plan to further entrench the fragmentation of the Palestinian people;
- Call for the reconstitution of the UN Centre against Apartheid to monitor the implementation of the Apartheid Convention with the aim of bringing Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people to an end;
- Broaden the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 to cover the Palestinian people as a whole, including Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and Palestinian refugees and exiles abroad, and call on the Special Rapporteur to report annually to the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly on steps taken to comply with the terms of the Apartheid Convention, as recommended by the 2017 ESCWA report; and
- Pursue international justice and accountability for widespread and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, including the crime of apartheid, by activating universal jurisdiction mechanisms to try suspected perpetrators in their own jurisdictions and by supporting the investigation into the situation in Palestine by the International Criminal Court (ICC).