Israel’s “Apartheid Regime” continues after Sharon

February 12, 2006 - 0:0
Speaking during a television interview recently, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who took over from ailing Ariel Sharon a month ago, began painting in broad strokes what he said was how Israel's final border should run. He said that Jordan Valley, Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel settlement blocs will remain a part of Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this week. 

Olmert, who toured construction sites of the separation barrier Israel is building in the Jerusalem area, also stated that Israel would retain a "united Jerusalem," referring to the eastern section which the Palestinians plan to have as their future capital. The acting premier appeared to dismiss the possibility of a negotiated settlement. "We are going toward separation from the Palestinians," he said, "toward establishing a permanent border for Israel."

A special comprehensive report published last week by UK’s The Guardian newspaper likened Israel's policy of discrimination toward the Palestinians to the apartheid policy in South Africa.

The report, prepared by Chris McGreal, a Journalist who spent four years in Israel after working as a reporter in South Africa, was accompanied by photographs comparing the two countries, with one photo depicting an Israeli soldier beating a Palestinian youth next to another showing a South African soldier confronting black South African protesters.

The report compared the white rule in South Africa to Israel's system of control over the Arab people, which includes the Separation Wall in the West Bank dubbed the "apartheid wall" as it forces communities apart and grabs the Palestinians’ land.   The report also included details on the size of the population in east Jerusalem.

It said that the Jewish population of east Jerusalem, which fled or was driven out in 1948, started gradually to return after 1967 creating a colony of Jewish settlements in the eastern section of the city. Now, the number of Jewish settlers in and close to east Jerusalem has become almost two-thirds that of the Arab neighborhoods.

In his article titled "houses were built for Israelis, but the lands were overwhelmingly taken from Palestinians," Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer who spent years fighting legal cases on behalf of Arab residents of Jerusalem, says: "Muslims and Christians are barred from buying in the Jewish quarter of the Old City on the grounds of 'historic patterns of life of each community having its own quarter,' but that didn't prevent the Israeli government from aggressively pursuing activities to place Jews within the Muslim quarter".

The Guardian has apparently angered Shuli Davidovich, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Britain, with the amount of truth and facts it provided in its report. Davidovich said that "The Guardian devoted 14 pages today to present Israel in the most negative manner." 

"This is not the first time that The Guardian presents Israel in such a harsh manner. We have complained to them a number of times, and unfortunately The Guardian always has the same answer, that there is no fault in the way they cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict". But Alon Liel, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa was quoted as saying that "if we take the magnitude of the injustice done to the Palestinians by the State of Israel, there is a basis for comparison with apartheid."

"Of course apartheid was a very different philosophy from what we do, most of which stems from security considerations. But from the point of view of outcome, we are in the same league," Liel says.

Israel has long been treating its Arab minority -- the descendants of the 150,000 Arabs who stayed put when Jewish state was established during 1948 war -- as the enemy. It treated them as a fifth column with links to the Arab world, it views as a threat. Other Palestinians became refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring Arab countries.

Israeli Arabs suffer curfews, administrative detentions, land confiscations and employment restrictions. They were even ordered by the Israeli government to carry "movement licenses" whenever they leave their villages.

The Palestinians in the occupied territories are treated far more harshly. The doctrine that Israel is a Jewish state; a state for the Jews of Israel and abroad, not of its citizens, has become part of the Basic Law of that country. Supreme Court Justice stated publicly that "it is necessary to prevent a Jew or an Arab who calls for equality of rights for Arabs from sitting in the Knesset or being elected to it."