‘World turns a blind eye to Israeli Apartheid’

84d0dugard un human rights ‘World turns a blind eye to Israeli Apartheid’

According to Dugard, the main reason preventing theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict from being solved is the internationalcommunity’s unwillingness to look into the region’s problems.He believes that in order to settle the dispute fairly aPalestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem must be created,with Israel existing in the boundaries set in 1948-49.The professor of international law has compared Israel’s currentpolicies in the West Bank to Apartheid, a system of racialsegregation, which curtailed the rights of the black people inSouth Africa during the rule of National Party governments1948-1994. RT: As a South African, who campaigned againstApartheid in your country, you’ve spoken about a certain type ofApartheid existing within Israel. Could you elaborate on that alittle?JD: Increasingly, Israel’s policies in the occupiedPalestinian territory are described as a form of Apartheid. And,like most South Africans, who have visited the occupied Palestinianterritory, I do believe that there are great similarities betweenApartheid as practiced in South Africa and the policies perused inthe occupied Palestinian territory.First of all, there’s discrimination. There are two groups:there are Jews – settlers – and the Palestinians. There are twoseparate legal systems for the settlers and for the Palestinians.Secondly, there’s clear repression. There’s torture applied inrespect of Palestinian militants, checkpoints, restricted freedomof movement on every level. There’s detention without trial. Thereare the same forms of political repression that we experienced inApartheid South Africa.RT: Would you say that there’s a certain Apartheid,which exists in Israel or it’s just in the occupiedterritories?JD: There’s clearly discrimination against Palestiniansin Israel itself. That is Israeli Arabs. But the feature, whichdistinguishes Israel from Apartheid in South Africa, is that theIsraeli Arabs do have the vote. The blacks didn’t have the vote inSouth Africa. And that does mean that if the Palestinian Arabs usedtheir vote intelligently they might constitute a major force in theIsraeli Knesset (parliament). RT: We’ve seen how the oppressive regimes likeApartheid and others in the past outlive themselves. Why thisconflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is going on forso long?JD: I think the main reason is that Israel has thesupport – an active support of the US and, to great extent, thesupport of the European Union and even the Russian Federation. Onecan’t underestimate the Holocaust guilt factor that in manycountries such as the Netherlands, for instance. The Netherlands’foreign policy in respect of Israel is largely determined by thefactor of Holocaust guilt. In the US there’s a powerful Israelilobby, consisting of the Jewish lobby and Evangelical lobby.Together these forces in the Israeli lobby ensure that no actioncan be taken to compel Israel to comply with its international lawobligations.RT: In the Hague, the home for the InternationalCriminal Court, there have been calls for some Israeli officials toappear before the ICC. Why hasn’t it happened?JD: The situation is that in 2009, following Israel’sinvasion of Gaza, the Palestinian authority accepted thejurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and requested thatan investigation would be made into international crimes committedduring that conflict and thereafter. But the prosecutor of the ICCdoesn’t have the courage to take action of this kind.And it’s quite clear that this is because of the influence ofthe US. The US is not a party to the Rome Statute of theInternational Criminal Court, but its presence is ever felt. Itdoes attend meeting of the assembly of the Statute parties, itmakes its position clear.RT: In which way does the US exert its influence overthe International Criminal Court?JD: Well, there’s hope and expectation that the US willjoin the International Criminal Court. The belief is that if theInternational Criminal Court institutes an investigation,prosecution into the events in Palestine that the US will certainlynot join the ICC. But I think it runs deeper than that. There’sreluctance on the part of the international institutions and statesthroughout the world to take action on Israel because they knowthat this would offend the US. RT: So, essentially, is the whole somewhat toothlesswithout the US? JD: As I see the situation, the International CriminalCourt would also be competent to initiate an investigation into theconstruction of settlements in the occupied territory. It’s notnecessary for Palestine to become a party to the ICC Statutebecause it has already accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. AndI think that without the firm action of this kind, the settlementswill continue to grow until the ideal of two-state solution iscompletely destroyed.RT: But what can the ICC do to stop expansion of theIsraeli settlements?JD: It’s quite clear that Israel is in violation of theinternational law on the subject. The European Union, the US andother states condemn the extension of settlements, but they don’tdo anything about it. The language isn’t translated into action.And what one really needs is firm action on the subject ofsettlements. And I believe that if the International Criminal Courtwere to initiate an investigation that would send out a messageloud and clear to those Israelis responsible for the settlementprogram and for those settlers in the occupied territory that whatthey are doing is an international crime. RT: But what happens to an Israeli farmer, who workedhard over many years on that land? Does he just lose hisfarm?JD: Well, I think it’s essential to see Israel’ssettlement policy as a form of colonialism. During the colonialperiod, the colonists settled in territories, started farms andother enterprises. And when decolonization came they had the choice– they either went back to the mother country or they stayed on andlived under the new sovereign rule. And that’s essentially thechoice the settlers would have. Either go back to Israel or theycan continue to live in the Palestinian state, subject to thePalestinian government and Palestinian laws. It’s theirchoice.RT: Are the settlements a major issue, which has to beresolved, before any kind of real peace talks can takeplace? JD: The settlements are important because they doconstitute a form of de facto annexation. Today we have some600,000 settlers in the Palestinian territory. They are taking moreand more land. The result is that the idea of a Palestinian statebecomes nonviable. And what troubles me is that the present Israeligovernment doesn’t see that its policies don’t serve the bestinterests of the Jewish people. I believe that it’s in the bestinterests of the Jewish people to continue to build the state ofIsrael within the borders established in 1948-49 and to encouragethe creation of a Palestinian state nearby. But the present trendin the region is, unfortunately, in favor of an Apartheidstate.Do you think that the International Criminal court has to bringprosecutions against the people involved in the Israeli-Palestinianconflict?JD: I don’t think that prosecuting Israelis is going tosolve the political problem. I think it simply sends out a messageto Israel that the international community and its institutions seewhat Israel is doing as an international crime. That’s the purposeof the prosecution. It’s not for retribution. And it won’t settlethe problem, politically. There has to be a settlement. And Ibelieve the settlement or the rules for that settlement are fairlyclear.Most people agree that what one needs is a Jewish state withinthe 1948-49 boundaries and the Palestinian state on the other sideof the region, with East Jerusalem as its capital. And somecompromise arrangement in respect of the return of refugees. I canunderstand that Israel finds it difficult to accept the notion thatall refugees and their descendants should be allowed to return toIsrael because it’ll flood the state of Israel with Palestinians. Ican see Israel’s point of view. So some compromise arrangementwould have to be made in respect of refugees. But otherwise thelines are fairly clear – it’s two states, with East Jerusalem as acapital of Palestine. RT: What are the main problems with achieving that twostate solution?JD: Land is the determining factor in the Middle East.Israel wishes to expand its territory and it does this by means ofexpansion of settlements. It does this by constructing an allegedsecurity wall within the Palestinian territory, which has resultedin the seizure of Palestinian land. And we’re going to see someform of legislative control exercised over the Area C. So in otherwords we see de facto annexation in Palestine taking place. Andwhat is very sad for me is that it’s so obvious, but theinternational community turns a blind eye – the US, the EU, RussianFederation, China – the whole international community simply turnsa blind eye to the facts that are very very clear.

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‘World turns a blind eye to Israeli Apartheid’

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