MK Touma-Sliman: Clear Signs of Apartheid Are Developing in Israel

To mark fifty years of the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held a two-day forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on last Friday and Saturday, June 23-24. The two day long event was entitled “Ending the Occupation: The Path to Independence, Justice, and Peace for Palestine.” The forum was organized in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 71/20 and 71/21 from November 30, 2016, with the participation of international experts, including from the State of Palestine and Israel, representatives of the diplomatic community, civil society, as well as academics and students to discuss the ongoing occupation in a series of moderated interactive panels.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman during her speech at the UN forum (Photo: Zo Haderech weekly)

MK Aida Touma-Sliman during her speech at the UN forum (Photo: Zo Haderech weekly)

Prominent pro-peace activists took part in the forum included: Hagai El-Ad, director of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem; Attorney Muna Haddad from Adalah, an advocacy group for minority rights in Israel; and Omar Shakir, who Israel initially prevented from entering the country after he became national director for Human Rights Watch, a global NGO.

At the Friday panel, Joint List Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) warned that Israel was “a country that is developing clear signs of apartheid.” “There can be no democracy with occupation; there can be no social justice with the oppression of an entire people,” she said, calling on UN member states to “exert significant pressure on Israel” to ensure the future of a two-state solution.”

According to the Communist lawmaker:  “There is a state that is still occupying people who do not have the right to self-determination,” adding that framing it in that way helped people understand the situation and analyze it accurately.  “All people of the world have a right to resist occupation.”  She said the international community had a responsibility to guarantee that occupation was not profitable but costly.  The current situation was a crucial juncture in Palestinian history, she said, noting that not all the talk of a two-State solution addressed the already existing one-state situation.  Israel was ruling with the tendency of an apartheid state and the window for a two-state solution was closing, warning:  “We are in the last one- to two-year window.” The international community must take responsibility, and the Palestinians must end the division among them.  Describing unity as a significant tool in the liberation struggle, she said peace forces inside Israel must also take responsibility for their future, while expressing concern that the Government, which attacked any basis for democracy “again and again” was persecuting civil society.

Addressing the forum on Friday, El-Ad accused Israel of minimizing international criticism of its policies in the West Bank by labeling it antisemitism. “Palestinians who oppose the occupation are terrorists, Israelis who oppose the occupation are traitors, and those in the international community who oppose the occupation are of course antisemitic,” El-Ad said. “The Israeli government is prepared to undermine the real fight against anti-semitism in order to preserve the occupation with minimal repercussions from the international community,” he charged.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, the forum’s keynote speaker, on Friday urged participants to make “life hell” for Israel until it withdraws from Palestinian territory. “Israel has a right to a narrative [which] may or may not be valid,” she said, but added that it was “disturbing… that the state of Israel does not wish to allow the Palestinians to have their narrative heard.”

Related: MK from CPI to Participate in UN Forum on 50 Years of Occupation