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Human Rights Consensus Around Crime of Apartheid

HRW Statement - Item 7 Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on OPT - HRC49

Palestinian laborers line up to cross a checkpoint at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, June 30, 2020.  © 2020 Oded Balilty/AP Images

That Israeli authorities are committing the crime against humanity of apartheid today is a matter of growing consensus within the global human rights movement and, increasingly, beyond it.

The report by the Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Michael Lynk, reinforces findings by leading Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups.  Groups have independently gathered evidence over many months, evaluated case studies, government policies and statements, applied the law and determined that apartheid is the reality for millions of Palestinians.

And yet, it continues to be business as usual when it comes to the international community’s approach to Israel and Palestine. At UN forums, too many states, particularly from the Western Group, repeat platitudes and tired talking points that bear little relation to the reality of structural repression on the ground. They have largely failed to take the sorts of human rights and accountability measures that abuses of this gravity warrant.

Persistent impunity has emboldened Israeli authorities to brazenly outlaw six of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations late last year. Six months have passed, and the Israeli government has not put forward any credible evidence to justify its sweeping designations. The moves represent an existential threat to Palestinian civil society.

It is beyond time for states to call on Israel to reverse this outrageous decision. These abusive designations are a true test of the international community’s resolve to protect human rights defenders. Failing this test will leave a lasting scar on the global human rights movement.

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