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UN agency accuses Israel of apartheid

[JURIST] The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [official website] released a report [text, PDF] on Wednesday that accuses Israel of establishing "an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." Apartheid is an international crime through the International Convention of the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) [text, PDF]. The commission claims the apartheid is being committed through Israel's methods of administration that control Palestinian populations. This includes different policies for Palestinians within Israel's democracy, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, Palestinians in occupied Palestinian territory, and Palestinian refugees and exiles who are banned from returning to land under Israel control. These methods allegedly cause a racial hierarchy and a perception of racial supremacy between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The report clarifies that the document itself is not authoritative and only a ruling by an international tribunal would officially classify Israel's actions as a crime. The report then urges quick review of the findings by the General Assembly, International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has stated [Reuters report] that the report was published without the prior consultation of the UN secretariat and does not reflect the views of the secretary-general.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been at the forefront of recent international news and reports. In February Amnesty International urged [JURIST report] Israel to repeal a law that many Palestinians from entering the country. In January Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will be lifting restrictions [JURIST report] on Israelis building settlements in East Jerusalem. In December a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned remarks [JURIST report] made by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry on the current Israeli government. In a speech given in December Kerry criticized the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, stating that such actions jeopardize prospects of peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu in December summoned [JURIST report] the ambassadors of the 14 UN Security Council members who supported a resolution condemning Israel's settlement in Palestine to rebuke them for the vote. Following the passage of this resolution, Netanyahu also ordered the country's foreign ministers to reevaluate Israel's ties to the UN within the month. In January, Trump was warned [JURIST report] by Palestinian leaders not to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

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