October 18, 2013

In Blog

Finkelstein comments:  The European Journal of International Law has published a landmark article by John Dugard and John Reynolds entitled “Apartheid, International Law and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” (2013).  Dugard is the leading authority on the legal aspect of South Africa’s apartheid regime, and is also a respected international jurist.  Below are some highlights from the article.
South Africa’s apartheid security forces on occasion killed political opponents in an arbitrary and secretive manner, but in most instances they preferred to bring such persons to trial.  This was because treason and terrorism were capital crimes in a country that then practised the death penalty.  Arguably, South Africa’s judicially approved execution of militants was more forthright than Israel’s extrajudicial executions, which allow militants to be killed while at the same time allowing Israel to proclaim proudly that it does not practise the death penalty. (pp. 891-92)
As was the case in apartheid South Africa–where “executive detention” was employed but on a lesser scale–measures pursued by the state in denial of the rights to live and liberty of person[s] of a particular group are implemented primarily to eliminate dissent or resistance to Israeli rule. (p. 895)
It bears noting that the web of relatively obscure and inaccessible military orders and regulations combined with bureaucratic restrictions that are often racialized in implementation rather than on paper, makes the depth of Israel’s systematic discrimination less immediately conspicuous than its counterpart in South Africa, where explicitly racist and freely available legislation made the apartheid regime in some sense more “honest” in its discriminatory intent.  This is nowhere more apparent than in the case of “road apartheid” (which was not practised in South Africa) in the West Bank which establishes separate but substantially unequal road networks for Jewish settlers and Palestinians, without any clear legal basis and without any notice of reservation of the kind that South Africa used to reserve separate parks, buses, beaches, and other public amenities for exclusively white occupation.  (p. 897)
Today it is clear that security is at best a secondary justification for the wall.  Its primary purpose is the annexation of land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that accommodates Jewish settlements…. Israel’s wall and its associated infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints reveal an intention to impose a system of permanent enclaves in which residence and passage are determined by racial identities–within the context of the occupation while it persists, and ultimately facilitating the annexation of large swathes of the West Bank.  This will leave for Palestinians, at best, the possibility of a Bantustan-type state in the remaining reserves. (p. 900)
The West Bank, for Palestinians, is…reduced to a series of dismembered enclaves. (p. 901)
The only inference that can be drawn from the institutionalized and systematic regime of inhuman acts and discrimination (unashamedly premised on an ideology of entitlement) towards the Palestinian people is that Israel intends to secure the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.  (p. 911)
Israel leaves the welfare of the occupied people to international donors and has created a cycle of aid dependency.  Israel’s lack of regard for the needs of the Palestinian people stands in contrast to the action taken by South Africa’s apartheid regime to improve material living conditions in the Bantustans it created. (p. 911)
A system of apartheid has developed in the occupied Palestinian territotry.  Israel practices in the occupied territory are not only reminiscent of–and in, in some cases, worse than–apartheid as it existed in South Africa, but are in breach of the legal prohibition of apartheid. (p. 912)