Mohammad Yousef *
Israel has been described as an apartheid state and settler colonial regime by many credible human rights centers and international organizations such as Amnesty and Un. Amnesty’s report “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity”, called the international community to hold Israel accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians and asked the ICC to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation in the alleged war crimes in OPT. Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, called the international community to adopt his report regarding the Israeli apartheid system in the OPT, he states that: “apartheid is being practiced by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory”.
Since its establishment in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine and expelling them from their lands, Israel has been repeatedly accused by Human Rights Watch of breaching international law and human rights, this fact has been explained in detail in human rights watch report “ A Threshold Crossed”, yet Israel has never been charged, prosecuted or held accountable for the violations and crimes that committed against Palestinians. Here are some key facts to understand why Israel is a regime above the law.
- A conditional membership in United Nations
Israel is the only member of the UN whose membership is conditional, it became a UN member on May 11th, 1949, its membership was conditional on adherence to and implementation of general Assembly resolutions 194 and 181. While Israel enjoys full membership in the United Nations despite not meeting the conditions and its commitment to the UN resolutions, Palestine only has non-member observer status in the United Nations and has been repeatedly threatened by the US to veto any attempt from Palestinians to gain full membership in the UN. This issue must be raised seriously in the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, and Israel’s membership in the United Nations must be reconsidered. Israel must be held accountable for violating international resolutions, and it must be obligated to implement the resolutions of the Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly.Allowing, in accordance with UN/GA Resolution 194, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and compensating them for their losses, and withdrawing, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 242, from the Palestinian territories they occupied after 1967.
- The Israeli arrogance and ignorance towards UN resolutions
According to the UN watch database, from 2006 to 2022, the UN Human Rights Council adopted 99 resolutions against Israel, and from 2015 to 2022 General Assembly has adopted 140 resolutions on Israel. Yet Israel hasn’t complied with any of them. The United States has used its veto power 53 times since 1972 against UN Security Council Resolutions critical of Israel. For instance, UN Security Council Resolution 2334/2016 has been passed after the abstention from voting on it by the Obama administration. The Security Council through this resolution reaffirmed that “ Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.” Israel used to reply to UN resolutions in a series of countermeasures by approving the construction of illegal settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories in a clear challenge to the international community and a blatant violation of international Law.
Just a couple of days ago on Friday 27 Oct this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an immediate and sustained ‘humanitarian truce’ in Gaza. 120 votes in favor, 14 against, and 45 abstentions. The Israeli ambassador, Gilad Erdan responded angrily to the vote saying that:
“Today is a day that will go down as infamy. We have all witnessed that the UN no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance,” he said, telling the assembly: “Shame on you.” . It is obvious from the words that have used by the Israeli ambassador statement in his response to the UN General Assembly calling for a humanitarian TRUCE IN GAZA, how much this occupying power is arrogance towards un resolutions and the international community calling un that they have no legitimacy or relevance anymore, Moreover, Israel has decided to deny UN officials from Visa after a speech on the war on Gaza. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres criticized Israel for the call for the evacuation of Palestinians from the north to the south of Gaza. He also said Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 did not happen “in a vacuum” as the Palestinians have been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.
- Incitement to violence and hate speech against Palestinians by Israeli officials.
While there is no specific definition for hate speech in international human rights instruments, Many United Nations conventions refer to the incitement to violence or hostilities. According to UN : “ Direct and public incitement to genocide” and “ the call of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” are strictly prohibited under international law, and are considered the “severest forms of hate speech”. According to the Article 25-E of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted in 1998, holds “criminally responsible and liable for punishment” anyone who ”directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide” . The Israeli minister of defense Yoac gallent on 9 October this year declared referring to Palestinians in Gaza strip : “ we are fighting human animals”. Benjamin Netanyahu the Israeli prime minister also stated that: “We will turn Gaza into an island of ruins”. These statements are a direct and open call for the public to commit a genocide against Palestinians, since ICC has the jurisdiction to look into the alleged crimes committed in OPT, it should investigate in these statements to examine the possibility of holding the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the minister of defense accountable for incites other to commit genocide according to the Rome statute Paragraph E of Article 25. This statement was condemned by the UN committee on racism as a “sharp increase in racist hate speech and dehumanization” directed at Palestinians by Israeli officials since the 7th of October” . The president of Israel Yitzhak Herzog used in his statement hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians, He stated : “ It is an entire nation who are responsible, We will fight until we break their backs.” and according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide can take place in times of war or peace and it obliges States to take measure to prevent it and punish perpetrators. Yitzhak Herzog as an Israeli official instead of obeying international obligations by taking measures to prevent the crime of genocide, encouraged his settlers to commit crimes and genocide against Palestinians, and as a result, he should held accountable by the ICC for inciting to commit genocide against Palestinians.
These three factors: Israel’s conditional membership in the United Nations, ignoring UN resolutions and dealing arrogantly with international law, using incitement to genocide and the language of hatred constitute the general framework of the policy adopted by the Israeli occupation state in the way it deals with the international community and international laws and norms, considering itself a regime above the law.
Who is responsible for the Israeli approach ?
There is no room for doubt that the main reason behind the Israeli arrogance and insensibility of human rights and international law is the unlimited support from the US and the West. They’ve been always an umbrella ensuring impunity for Israel for decades. The unlimited military, financial, and political support from the US, the UK, and similar Western countries has encouraged Israel to continue with its aggressive policies violating humanitarian law, human rights, and international law. The US and Western countries who declared a joint statement of support to Israel ( Canada- France- Germany- Italy) should held accountable for supporting Israeli human rights violation and getting involved directly or indirectly in the collective punishment of the Palestinian . Since the 7th of October Israel has been bombing hospitals, mosques, churches, bakeries, UN stuffs , journalists, children, and displaced people committing war crimes and grave violations of international humanitarian laws and human rights. Yet the West by the leadership of us declare that they are willing to support Israel with whatever they need till they finish their mission in Gaza. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated on Friday October 27 that: “History is judging us all.”
The international community’s reputation is on the brink of collapse after failing to stop the 75-year-old ongoing occupation of Palestine and hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians. A genocide in Gaza is taking place on live in front of the whole world right now, Gaza was cut off internet, telecommunications, medical aid, fuel, food supplies, and water by Israeli occupation forces to pave the way to a new Nakba. Numerous massacres have been committed by Israeli occupation forces since the 7 of October, the number of martyrs has reached 7400 so far, most of them children and women, bombs are equivalent to the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been dropped by Israeli warplanes on the civilians in Gaza with no mercy. This slaughter of the Palestinian people in the 21st century which has been committed by Israel and its Western allies, will remain as a disgrace to humanity while the steadfastness and resistance of the Palestinian people will be embroidered with threads of gold and will be immortalized in history across generations.
*Researcher in International Law – Ankara Yildrim Beyazit University