On 6 April 2021, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) submitted a petition in response to the inter-state complaint lodged with the UN committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter the “Committee”) by the State of Palestine pursuant to Articles 11-13 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter the “Convention”).
In the submission, PHROC emphasized that any meaningful analysis of Israel’s violations of the Convention directed towards Palestinians must be done within the context of Article 3, which prohibits and condemns racial segregation and apartheid. Specifically, the submission makes reference to the extensive Joint Parallel Report submitted by human rights organizations in preparation for the State of Israel’s review under the Convention during the Committee’s 100thsession, which illustrates and analyzes Israel’s creation and maintenance of an apartheid regime based on racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole.
The submission addressed the legal definition of apartheid as an international crime and breach of the fundamentals of the international legal order, as recognized and codified in international law, as well as the constitutive elements of apartheid as an international crime. PHROC also stressed that the argument that Israel has created and maintained an apartheid regime is neither new nor novel, making reference to the conclusions reached by the Committee in 2007 and 2012, which found Israel, as a State Party to the Convention, to be in violation of Article 3.
PHROC also restated the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)’s investigation in this area, in its report titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”, which found that the international community has played a vital role in the normalization of Israel’s fragmentation of the Palestinian people, which it identified as a key component of Israeli apartheid.
PHROC reiterated the four primary “domains” of fragmentation of the Palestinian people that Israel uses as a primary method to impose and maintain its apartheid regime. The first domain is comprised of Palestinian citizens of Israel; the second domain encompasses the Palestinian so-called “permanent residents” of East Jerusalem; the third domain may be found through the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), namely Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip; and the fourth domain comprises Palestinian refugees in involuntary exiles who were displaced following 1948 and 1967. Accordingly, PHROC urged the Committee to consider the Palestinian population as a whole, separated through a prolonged campaign of entrenched fragmentation.
PHROC also stressed that as part of its ongoing policy of displacement, Israel has created a coercive environmental whose clear goal is the displacement and erasure of the indigenous Palestinian population. This is done in numerous ways, including through population transfer and demographic manipulation, discriminatory planning and zoning, including the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the denial of access to natural resources, the excessive use of force, restrictions on Palestinian movement, and the denial of access to, and fragmentation of, healthcare.
Additionally, the submission made reference to Israel’s systematic silencing of opposition and widespread human rights violations as a core method of ensuring the maintenance of its apartheid machinery. This is done through the creation of a climate of fear and intimidation through arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, collective punishment, and smear campaigns against human rights defenders.
PHROC reiterated that it is imperative that the Committee, in the proceedings of the present inter-state complaint procedure, view all forms of racial discrimination carried out by the State of Israel within the lens of apartheid, as included in Article 3 of the Convention. PHROC further stressed that Palestinians will be unable to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination and permanent sovereignty until such a point that the Israeli apartheid machinery has been dismantled.
PHROC concluded its submission with a list of recommendations, including, but not limited to, urging the Committee to recognize and declare that Israel’s discriminatory laws, policies, and practices have established, and continue to maintain, an institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, using fragmentation as a main measure to maintain its apartheid regime. PHROC also urged the State parties to the Rome Statute to cooperate with the investigation of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as a viable independent judicial body capable of ending impunity for crimes committed in the OPT and effectively deterring the commission of future crimes.