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Israel’s “apartheid” against Palestinians worse than in South Africa, accuses Pretoria

Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen ANP via Agence France-Presse “It is clear that the illegal occupation of Israel is also administered in violation of the crime of apartheid […] it is indistinguishable from colonialism,” argued Tuesday Vusimuzi Madonsela (right), African ambassador from the South to the Netherlands.

Richard Carter – Agence France-Presse and Julie Capelle – Agence France-Presse in The Hague

February 20, 2024

  • Middle East

Israel's practices in the Palestinian territories are an “even more extreme” form of the apartheid South Africa experienced before 1994, Pretoria told the UN's highest court on Tuesday.< /p>

“As South Africans, we feel, see, hear and feel deep within ourselves the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of institutionalized apartheid against black people in my country,” said Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which sits in The Hague, is holding hearings this week on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented number of 52 countries called to testify.

“It is clear that the illegal occupation of Israel is also administered in violation of the crime of apartheid […] it is indistinguishable from colonialism,” Madonsela continued.

“Israel’s apartheid must end,” he added, emphasizing that South Africa has a “special obligation” to denounce apartheid wherever it occurs and to ensure that it is “put to an immediate end.”

These hearings come amid growing international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7.

They are separate from a case brought to the ICJ by South Africa, which accuses Israel of committing genocidal acts in Gaza. The court has yet to rule on this point, but on January 26 called on Israel to prevent any possible act of genocide. She did not mention a ceasefire.

According to Mr. Madonsela, “the reluctance of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its policies and practices and its inability to guarantee the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and the immediate end of Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine […] encourages Israel to cross a new threshold, namely to commit the crime of crimes, genocide.”

Israel is not participating in the hearings but called on the Court to reject the request for an opinion in a written submission dated July 24, 2023.

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“Total contempt”

On December 31, 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution requesting a non-binding “advisory opinion” from the ICJ on the “legal consequences arising from Israel's policies and practices in the territory occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

This concerns the “prolonged occupation” of Palestinian territory since 1967.

It must also examine measures “aimed at changing the demographic composition, character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem.”

In June 1967, Israel waged the Six-Day War, seizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Gaza Strip. Sinai to the detriment of Egypt.

Israel then began occupying the 70,000 square kilometers of seized Arab territory, an occupation later declared illegal by the United Nations.

“The prohibition of apartheid and racial discrimination is […] an imperative of international law” binding on all states, including Israel, said Pieter Andreas Stemmet, lawyer for the South Africa.

“Israel’s total disregard and lack of respect for these principles makes the occupation inherently and fundamentally illegal,” he added.

The hearings began Monday with three hours of testimony from Palestinian officials, who accused the Israeli occupiers of running a system of “colonialism and apartheid.”

The ICJ rules on disputes between States and its judgments are binding, although it has few means to enforce them.

However, in the present case, the opinion it gives will not be binding. But most advisory opinions are actually acted upon.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116