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Israeli Officials Blast ‘Apartheid’ Claims by Human Rights Watch Report as ‘Preposterous and False’

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Omar Shakir, a US citizen representing New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel and the Palestinian territories, stands next to Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW, while speaking before departing Israel at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Nov. 25, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

Israeli senior government officials rebuffed claims by international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW), which accused Israel of deploying “abusive policies” of “apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians and called for the imposition of sanctions and other legal actions in a report released Tuesday.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the allegations made in the HRW report as “both preposterous and false” and argued that the watchdog has a “long-standing anti-Israeli agenda, actively seeking for years to promote boycotts against Israel.”

“This report is yet another part of the organization’s ongoing campaign, led by a known BDS supporter, with no connection to facts or reality on the ground. Their decision not to share this report for review or comment with any Israeli authority, is clear indication that it is a propaganda pamphlet, which lacks all credibility,” a ministry spokesperson told The Algemeiner by email. “HRW’s founder, Mr. Robert Bernstein, has criticized his organization in 2009 for ‘issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.'”

The HRW 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” is written by Omar Shakir, who has been denied entry to Israel due to his collaboration with the BDS movement. In the report, HRW asserted that it did not seek to compare Israel with South Africa under apartheid or to determine whether Israel is an “apartheid state.”

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“The report assesses whether specific acts and policies carried out by Israeli authorities today amount in particular areas to the crimes of apartheid and persecution as defined under international law. The Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT. That intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid,” the report read.

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Michael Biton emphasized that “the Israeli judicial system is globally renowned for its independent, steadfast and tireless work to protect the rights of all citizens and individuals.”

“There is no connection between HRW’s report and the legal, social, and moral truths which are prevalently found throughout Israel. The purpose of this spurious report is in no way related to human rights, but to an ongoing attempt by HRW to undermine the State of Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people,” Biton added.

As part of its recommendations, HRW urged countries to establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate “systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine” and “to mobilize international action to end persecution and apartheid worldwide.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan called the report “a collection of lies and fabrications, bordering on antisemitic.”

“When the authors of the report cynically and falsely use the term apartheid, they nullify the legal and social status of millions of Israeli citizens, including Arab citizens, who are an integral part of the State of Israel,” said Ambassador Erdan.

The HRW report also called upon the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Israel this month rejected the ICC’s authority to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the Jewish state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem.

“HRW promotes the investigation against Israel in the ICC and seeks to preach morality while conducting a campaign on behalf of our enemies,” tweeted Danny Danon, former Israeli ambassador to the UN. “It would be advisable for HRW to focus on human rights violations in Syria and Iran before attacking the only Middle East democracy.”

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