Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights NGO, has issued a detailed legal opinion stating that regardless of whether the state’s far-right government moves forward with its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, it is already upholding a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In recent months, Yesh Din’s legal advisor, Atty. Michael Sfard, has examined the question: “According to the principles of international law, is the crime of apartheid being committed in the West Bank?” According the 58-page legal opinion published in June by Yesh Din, Atty. Sfard “arrived at a clear and painful conclusion: ‘The crime against humanity of apartheid is being committed in the West Bank. The perpetrators are Israelis and the victims are Palestinians.’”
The crime of apartheid is defined as “inhuman acts committed in the context of a regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups with the intention of maintaining that regime.”
“The prohibition on the establishment of an apartheid regime aims to prevent an abuse of the core moral principles adopted after World War II – that of our common humanity,” the human rights group said.
The Israeli government maintains this separation and domination with all its might and works to perpetuate the supremacy of Israelis and the subjugation of the Palestinians. The implications of a West Bank apartheid regime – a crime under international law – is that every person, in Israel and around the world, has a duty to act to stop the crime and not cooperate with it.
Yesh Din sums up Sfard’s legal opinion, writing that the situation in the West Bank is “distressful and shameful. Even if not all of us, as Israelis, are guilty of the crime, we are all responsible for it. And we must, each and every one of us, act resolutely to stop the crime… The Israeli military regime in the West Bank as it stands today is intended to preserve the supremacy of one population group over another, and that this constitutes the crime of apartheid which, under international criminal law, is classified as a crime against humanity”