Israeli ambassadors to South Africa have said that ‘Israel’ practices ‘Apartheid’ against Palestinians, calling the world to recognize that what happened in South Africa decades ago is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories too.
In an article they wrote in the GroundUp, the two Israeli ambassadors, Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel, said that the occupation state of ‘Israel’ “has worked to change both the geography and the demography of the West Bank through the construction of settlements, which are illegal under international law.”
The ambassadors also said that ‘Israel’ has “advanced projects” to connect the illegal settlements to its proper “through intensive investment in infrastructure development, and a vast network of highways and water and electricity infrastructure have turned the settlement enterprise into a comfortable version of suburbia.”
“This has happened alongside the expropriation and takeover of massive amounts of Palestinian land, including Palestinian home evictions and demolitions,” they wrote.
“That is, settlements are built and expanded at the expense of Palestinian communities, which are forced onto smaller and smaller tracts of land.”
Ilan Baruch served as Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and Alon Liel served as Israeli Ambassador to South Africa and as Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ambassadors said that during their careers in the foreign service, they “learned firsthand about the reality of apartheid and the horrors it inflicted. But more than that – the experience and understanding we gained in South Africa helped us to understand the reality at home.”
The ambassadors said that the reality which they have seen in ‘Israel’ reminds them of what the former Ambassador Avi Primor described in his autobiography about a trip that he took with then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon to South Africa in the early 1980s.
“During the visit, Sharon expressed great interest in South Africa’s bantustan project. Even a cursory look at the map of the West Bank leaves little doubt regarding where Sharon received his inspiration,” they wrote.
“The West Bank today consists of 165 “enclaves” – that is, Palestinian communities encircled by territory taken over by the settlement enterprise.”
“In 2005, with the removal of settlements from Gaza and the beginning of the siege, Gaza became simply another enclave – a bloc of territory without autonomy, surrounded largely by Israel and thus effectively controlled by Israel as well,” they continued.
The ambassadors wrote that the bantustans of South Africa under the apartheid regime and the map of the occupied Palestinian territories today are “predicated on the same idea of concentrating the “undesirable” population in as small an area as possible, in a series of non-contiguous enclaves.”
They added, “By gradually driving these populations from their land and concentrating them into dense and fractured pockets, both South Africa then and Israel today worked to thwart political autonomy and true democracy.”
“It is clearer than ever that the occupation is not temporary, and there is not the political will in the Israeli government to bring about its end.”
“Human Rights Watch recently concluded that Israel has crossed a threshold and its actions in the occupied territories now meet the legal definition of the crime of apartheid under international law.”
The ambassadors stated that “Israel is the sole sovereign power that operates in this land, and it systematically discriminates on the basis of nationality and ethnicity.”
“Such a reality is, as we saw ourselves, apartheid,” they said.
“It is time for the world to recognize that what we saw in South Africa decades ago is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories too,” the ambassadors added.
“And just as the world joined the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is time for the world to take decisive diplomatic action in our case as well and work towards building a future of equality, dignity, and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”