Palestine: no peace but apartheid

Due to the number of complaints of Palestinians being a “security risk” received from Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israel launched a segregated bus service meant for Palestinians at the beginning of March.

While Israel’s Transport Ministry claimed that the bus line would “improve public transport services for Palestinian workers entering Israel,” the incident has been increasingly criticized as being discriminatory by many in the international community.

Released in 2006, Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” called the holy land an apartheid state. Despite the book’s criticism, it seems that Israel is becoming increasingly closer in resemblance to the historical apartheid situation in South Africa.

According to International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1973, apartheid is defined as, “inhuman acts 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.”

Surprisingly enough, neither Israel and the United States were signatories of the convention.

Take a closer look at Israel. The Jewish population has a distinctly dominant role in the region, and the Palestinians are clearly being oppressed.

The Palestinian territories include the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. However, Israel denies its presence in Gaza claiming that it disengaged from the region in 2005, despite maintaining rigid control over Gaza’s airspace and coastline. All territories have been occupied and controlled by the Israeli Defense Force since the Six-Day War in 1967.

In terms of citizenship, Palestinians living in lands governed by the Palestinian Authority which include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are ineligible for the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship, due to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law which passed in 2003. Therefore the only Palestinians who are guaranteed Israeli citizenship are those who do not live on Palestinian land. This puts other Palestinians at a huge disadvantage in a land they had once called their own.

Another one of Israel’s policies that closely resembles an apartheid law is its permittance of the Jewish National Fund which owns over 13 percent of land in Israel to sell its land only to those of Jewish decent.

In a 2004 interview, renowned scholar and linguist professor Noam Chomsky commented on the aspects of Israeli governance that nears an apartheid state.

“If you look at the land laws, and decode it all, what it amounts to is that about ninety percent of the land inside Israel is reserved to what’s called ‘people of Jewish race, religion and origin,'” said Chomsky. “That’s in the contract between the state of Israel and the Jewish National Fund, which is a non-Israeli organization, which, however, by various bureaucratic arrangements, administers the land… All of this is covered up enough so that nobody can say, ‘Look, here’s an apartheid law.’ ”

Furthermore, Palestinians living in the non-annexed portions of the West Bank must pass through checkpoints and segregated roads, even in areas with inhabitants who are not Israeli citizens and are not allowed voting rights.

According to human rights organization B’Tselem, Palestinians are barred from using 450 miles of West Bank roads, not to mention highways that would allow Palestinians to travel into Israel. For example, since 2003 Palestinians were restricted from using Israel’s Highway 60.

These are just a handful of policies that Israel enforces upon the Palestinians. There are many other laws in Israel restricting Palestinians that resemble apartheid laws, including the appropriation of Palestinian land, the demolition of homes and farms owned by Palestinians in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

While many critics deny that Israel implements an apartheid-system within its borders, it is clearly moving in that direction. Now with the new segregated buses that Israel’s Ministry of Transportation are launching, the Palestinians are in need of a Nelson Mandela figure in order to make a publicized statement against such injustices.