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Human Rights Watch, one of the most important human rights monitoring bodies, has released a landmark report exposing Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. Marking a truly seismic moment, the 213-page report found an “overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians” which amounts to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. The report brings an end to the false framework that regards Israel as an egalitarian democracy overseeing a temporary occupation. The reality identified by the report is that: from the river to the sea, the Israeli state enacts polices and laws that methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) welcomes Human Rights Watch’s findings, which include detailed accounts of the different elements of Israel’s apartheid regime, including but not limited to demographic engineering, movement restrictions, land confiscation, forcible transfer of the indigenous Palestinian population, the denial of basic civil rights, the illegal settlements and unequal access to resources.

PSC also notes that the report echoes the long-standing warnings from Palestinian civil society and the solidarity movement that Israel’s racist and discriminatory policies amount to the crime of apartheid. It also welcomes Human Rights Watch’s conclusion that urgent action should be taken in order to bring an end to Israel’s persecution of the Palestinian people.

As Palestinians have demanded time and time again, it is critical that the international community, including the UK Government and all political parties and public bodies hold Israel to account through ending all agreements, trade and funding that supports the commission of these serious crimes. Likewise, as this report makes explicit, “businesses should cease activities that directly contribute  to the commission of the crimes of apartheid and persecution.” This statement carries serious implications for companies like JCB, which has already been identified by the UN as complicit in violations of international law. The report also carries implications for public bodies such as Universities and Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) funds that invest in such companies, and by doing so make themselves complicit in supporting crimes against humanity.

This report needs to be a watershed moment. In the face of its forensic analysis and unanswerable case it is time for Western leaders to change the direction of their polices and make the necessary moral and political leap that would see them begin to hold Israel to account for these crimes.

“A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” is available at: https://www.hrw.org/node/378469