Has Israel created apartheid?

Apartheid was originally a term limited to describing the apartheid regime of South Africa. However, in July 1976 it became a crime in international law, defined in the “International Convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of Apartheid”. In 1998, it was incorporated in article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as the “crime of apartheid” as a form of crime against humanity.

Beginning in September 2020, six respected NGOs have produced reports concluding that Israel has created a system of apartheid. The Israeli NGO Yesh Din, Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic jointly with the Palestinian NGO Addameer, have concluded that Israel has created apartheid in the West Bank, although Israel itself and East Jerusalem, while having some severely racist characteristics, do not reach the legal threshold of the crime of apartheid. Amnesty International, the Israeli NGO B’tselem and the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq have said that Israel, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are one geographical area characterised by a system of apartheid.

Whichever legal interpretation of the extent of Israeli apartheid ultimately becomes the consensus view, the plain fact is that Israel has created an apartheid system in the 21st century.


Apartheid Convention

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Yesh Din, legal opinion written by Michael Sfard, 9 September 2020

B’tselem, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid.”, 12 January 2021

Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed”, 27 April 2021

Amnesty International, “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity”, 1 February 2022

Harvard Law School Internatiuonal Human Rights Clinic and Addameer, joint submission, “Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank: A Legal Analysis of Israel’s Actions”,   28 February 2022.


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