Faizel Patel – 30/04/2021
The Middle East Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW) Omar Shakir says the organisation spent more than two years assessing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians based on new case studies.
The findings are contained in a 213-page report – “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”
The report details how Israel has sought to maintain Jewish-Israeli hegemony over the Palestinian people from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
HRW believes policy makers must shift focus for Israeli-Palestinian peace away from political solution to a rights-based solution approach.
Speaking to Radio Islam, Shakir says while HRW wants both a political and a rights-based solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, policy makers have essentially considered human rights abuse to be symptoms of the problem.
“The problem being the lack of negotiations or a peace process. In doing that they have effectively marginalised human rights issues as something that’s an impediment to peace. For too long folks have considered apartheid to be a future or hypothetical scenario. But apartheid is the reality today for millions of Palestinians. You can’t solve a problem that you misdiagnose. The diagnosis here is apartheid and persecution.”
Israel has dismissed the HRW’s report, calling it a “propaganda pamphlet”.
Shakir says the Israeli government has no response on the merits of the report.
“I don’t know of a 213-page pamphlet first of all. But secondly, the Israeli government has refused to engage on the substance. They’ve instead resorted to mudslinging and name-calling, this is not unique to Israel. Human Rights Watch works in a hundred countries around the world and when governments don’t want to engage on the substance, they change the topic and they sling mud. This is of course a planned tactic that the Israeli government uses with critics of all sorts.”
Shakir says HRW hopes there will be a political solution, but Palestinians cannot continue to languish with systemic discrimination, repression and apartheid.
Listen to the interview with Omar Shakir