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Israeli Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid: Crimes Against Humanity

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 05 October 2011

  Israeli Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid: Crimes Against Humanity - by Stephen Lendman


Colonialism and apartheid are especially serious international law breaches because they fundamentally violate core legal principles and values. 


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed self-determination as an essential principle of international law. All states must respect and promote it. Colonial occupation is in clear violation.


The 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (the Declaration on Colonialism), condems "colonialism in all its forms and manifestations," including illegal settlements. 


According to the 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention), this practice is state-sanctioned discriminatory "inhuman" racism "committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them." 


Apartheid is an international crime. The above definition builds on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). 


In addition, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime under the Court's jurisdiction. Israel is flagrantly guilty but yet to be held accountable.


International laws prohibiting colonialism and apartheid are "peremptory." As a result, they're recognized by the world community as standards permitting no derogation. Every country is legally bound to respect and observe them. They must also:

  • work cooperatively to end individual state violations;


  • not extend recognition to lawless ones; nor


  • provide them aid in any form.


Moreover, international law recognizes:

  • Palestinians' right to self-determination;


  • that Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegally occupied; 


  • that Israel has no sovereignty over these Territories, only an earlier temporary administrative right no longer applicable;


  • that land seizures are illegal; 


  • so is the Separation Wall as the ICJ affirmed in 2004;


  • that the 2005 Gaza "disengagement" left Israel in control; that over four years of siege is illegal; and


  • that, as an Occupying Power, international law obligates Israel to "abide by the....rules of armed conflict (and relevant human rights laws) in its administration of the territories."


For over 44 years, Israel willfully violated the law under a dual discriminatory regime. Its occupation and land seizures are illegal. Its settlers are protected under civil laws assuring them free movement and essential services.


In contrast, Palestinians are governed by military law. Its tribunals violate international judiciary standards. Israel's High Court affirmed a bifurcated system that discriminates lawlessly between these two groups, affording them different rights, protections, and life chances in the same territory.


As a result, this system violates armed conflict laws, as well as international legal colonialism and apartheid prohibitions.


Under the Declaration on Colonialism, this practice exists when states annex or otherwise lawlessly retain territorial control and deny indigenous peoples their self-determination rights. Israel does it six ways by:

  • violating the integrity of the Occupied Territories;


  • prohibiting meaningful self-government;


  • integrating the area's economy into its own;


  • controlling its resources; 


  • denying Palestinians economic enfranchisement, free movement, expression, their historical heritage as well as right to develop and practice it, and equal justice under the law; and


  • maintaining a 44-year state of war, including killings, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, incarcerations, torture and abuse, as well as other degrading and humiliating treatment.


Under ICERD's Article 3, apartheid is prohibited as a particularly egregious form of discrimination, without precisely defining the practice. 


The Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute went further by criminalizing certain apartheid-related acts. They specifically involve inhuman ones, letting one racial (or ethnic) group dominate and oppress another. 


Israel takes full advantage by affording Palestinians virtually no rights as occupied people subjected to harsh discriminatory treatment.


Third International Russell Tribunal on Palestine Session


On November 5 and 6 in Cape Town, South Africa, distinguished speakers will address the following topic:


"Is the Crime of Apartheid Applicable to Israel? Consequences"


The agenda includes:

  • An introduction by Pierre Galand and Stephane Hessel


  • Opening remarks by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
  • Speakers yet to be announced discussing: "Setting the Legal Context - The Palestinian Right to Self-Determination;"


  • Max du Plessis addressing "Apartheid in South Africa, and the Prohibition of Apartheid in International Law;"


  • John Dugard discussing "The Law and Practice of Apartheid in South Africa and Palestine;"


  • David Keane addressing "Elements of the Definition of Apartheid - Racial Groups under International Law;"


  • Ingrid Jaradat discussing "Palestinian Identity and Palestinians as a Distinct Racial Group for the Purposes of the Definition of Apartheid;"


  • Steven Friedman addressing "Jewish Identity and Jews as a Distinct Racial Group for the Purposes of the Definition of Apartheid;"


  • Joseph Schechla and Emily Schaeffer discussing "Elements of the Definition of Apartheid: An Institutionalized Regime of Systematic Domination;"


  • speakers to be announced addressing "Acts of Apartheid (Based on Article 2 of the Apartheid Convention as well as Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);"


  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Mahmod Hassan presenting testimonies about extrajudicial killing, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, as well as arbitrary arrests and illegal imprisonment in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel;


  • Rafeef Ziadah and Zwelinzima Vavi addressing "Exploitation of Labour of Members of a Racial Group or Groups in Israel;"


  • Luciana Coconi, Shawan Jabarin and Lea Lea Tsemel discussing "Preventing a Racial Group from Participating in the Country's Political, Social, Economic and Cultural Life and from Developing Fully, by Denying Basic Human Rights and Freedoms to it;"


  • Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Jeff Halper and Jamal Juma'a addressing "Measures Designed to Divide the Population Along Racial Lines;"


  • Haneen Zoabi and Shawqi Ensan discussing "Persecution of Organizations and Persons, by Depriving Them of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Because They Oppose Apartheid;"


  • Rafaelle Maison addressing "Persecution as a Crime Against Humanity;"


  • Raji Surani, Mohammed Khatib and Jazi Abu Kaf  discussing the above issue with regard to Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs;


  • A speaker to be announced presenting Israel's position (if one shows up); and


  • Francois Dubuisson addressing "Third Party Responsibility and Remedies;" followed by closing remarks, Russell Tribunal jury deliberations on issues pertaining to Israel and Palestine, and a press conference.


A follow-up article will discuss Russell Tribunal findings and conclusions. 


Moreover, on October 27, the Progressive Radio News Hour will feature Frank Barat, a member of the Russell Tribunal's Organizing Committee. He's also a member of the UK-based Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, supporting peace and justice for Palestinians.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.





1. Israel is a Middle East state establishe­d by the UN in 1948
2. It has a thriving hi-tech industrial export sector
3. It is a major exporter of arms, fruit and cut diamonds
4. It is estimated to be the 4th most powerful nuclear weapons state in the world through its ties with America
5. It has become a strategic partner of both the US and all 27 EU states by access to their security systems and military defence capabiliti­es
6. It has enormous influence over US foreign policy in the Mideast
7. AIPAC gives it a disproport­ionate influence in the U N Security Council and the world


1. Israel is in danger of being pushed into the sea by Iran
2. It is co-operati­ng in the establishm­ent of a Palestinia­n state
3. Its illegal settlement­s are supported by Jews worldwide
4. Its policy of state-spon­sored assassinat­ion is legal and essential
5. It does not employ torture on any of its 7000 political prisoners
6. Its political system is not corrupt and its judiciary is independen­t
7. Its military forces operate under internatio­nal law
8. It does not use chemical weapons
9. It has no disproport­ionate influence either in the US or the EU
10. It does not have a secret stockpile of weapons of mass destructio­n
11. It has signed the nuclear non-prolif­eration treaty
12. It wants an equitable peace and believes in human rights


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