9. In recent years, a number of reputable scholars and organizations have concluded that systemic and widespread discriminatory Israeli policies and practices against the Palestinians amount to the crime of apartheid under international law. While the international community has not fully acted upon it, the concept that Israeli occupation meets the legal threshold of apartheid is gaining traction. This may help overcome a certain tendency to scrutinize Israeli violations, often individual and
decontextualized, under specific bodies of international law rather than the very system through which Israel rules over the Palestinians.
10. At the same time, if considered alone and not as part of a holistic examination of the experience of the Palestinian people as a whole, the apartheid framework presents some limitations:
(a) First, with few exceptions, the scope of recent reports on Israeli apartheid is primarily “territorial” and excludes the experience of Palestinian refugees. The recognition of Israeli apartheid must address the experience of the Palestinian people in its entirety and in their unity as a people, including those who were displaced, denationalized and dispossessed in 1947–1949 (many of whom live in the occupied Palestinian territory);
(b) Second, a focus on Israeli apartheid alone misses the inherent illegality of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation is illegal because it has proven not to be temporary, is deliberately administered against the best interests of the occupied population and has resulted in the annexation of occupied territory, breaching most obligations imposed on the occupying Power. Its illegality also stems from its systematic violation of at least three peremptory norms of international law: the prohibition on the acquisition of territory through the use of force; the prohibition on imposing regimes of alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, including racial discrimination and apartheid; and the obligation of States to respect the right of peoples to self-determination. By the same token, Israeli occupation constitutes an unjustified use of force and an act of aggression.9 Such an occupation is unequivocally prohibited under international law and contrary to the values, purposes and principles of the United Nations as enshrined in its Charter;
(c) Third, the apartheid framework does not address the “root causes” of the web of racially discriminatory laws, orders and policies that have regulated daily life in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 and Israeli animus (intention) in seizing land while subjugating and displacing its indigenous people and replacing them with its nationals. This is the hallmark of settler-colonialism, and a war crime
under the Rome Statute.
11. In essence, the limitations of the apartheid framework as currently applied bypass the critical issue of the recognition of the Palestinian people’s fundamental right to determine their political, social and economic status and develop as a people, free from foreign occupation, rule and exploitation. Dismantling the Israeli apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory in particular, while necessary, will not
automatically address the question of Israeli domination over the Palestinians, restore permanent sovereignty over the lands Israel occupies and the natural resources therein, nor, on its own, fulfil Palestinian political aspirations.