Israel denounces Amnesty, as ‘apartheid’ report on Palestinians is published

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Israel denounces Amnesty, as ‘apartheid’ report on Palestinians is published

The human rights group said Israeli actions within its own borders and the West Bank were discriminatory and racially motivated against Palestinians

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

The Amnesty report was published earlier in February 2022
The Amnesty report was published earlier in February 2022

Israel has sought to project a visibly more adversarial stance after Amnesty International became the third major rights group to describe its treatment of Palestinians and its own Arab minority as apartheid.

In a 211-page report formally released on Tuesday morning, the London-based international human rights group said Palestinians were treated as an “inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights”.

It said Israeli policies both within its borders and in the West Bank were discriminatory and racially motivated against Palestinians.

But multiple Israeli government departments leaked the document in advance in what officials called a “pre-emptive strike”.

They accused Amnesty of antisemitism.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister, said Amnesty was “just another radical organisation which echoes propaganda, without seriously checking the facts”.

A statement by the foreign ministry added that the report “denies the state of Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

“Its extremist language and distortion of historical context were designed to demonise Israel and pour fuel onto the fire of antisemitism.”

With the report Amnesty becomes the third major rights group to accuse Israel of apartheid, after the New York-based Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem in Israel.

But many other Israeli and Jewish organisations condemned Amnesty ahead of publication.

In Britain, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council said it was “completely biased and applies standards to Israel that are not applied to any other country.

“The emotive term ‘apartheid’ against Israel is a preposterous slur.”

Amnesty called for an ongoing probe by the International Criminal Court to be widened to include the crime of apartheid.

It also said Britain should commit to a “major re-assessment” of its foreign policy towards Israel.

Apartheid, which describes an institutionalised regime of oppression and domination by one racial group over another, was defined as a crime by a United Nations in 1976 in response to the regime in South Africa.

In a statement released ahead of the report’s publication, Amnesty said: “No government is above criticism, and that includes the Israeli government.

“Our research shows that the Israeli authorities are enforcing a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian refugees.

“The report documents how Israel treats Palestinians as an inferior racial group, segregating and oppressing them wherever it has control over their rights.”

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