Israeli Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid - by Stephen Lendman
The Cape Town, South Africa-based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) "conduct(s) large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific projects for public-sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies," and disseminates its findings widely.
In May 2009, it issued a damning report titled, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law." At the time John Dugard was the UN's Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine. At his January 2007 suggestion, the study was undertaken "to scrutinise (his) hypothesis from the perspective of international law." It stated:
"Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law. What are the legal consequences of a regime of prolonged occupation with features of colonialism and apartheid for the occupied people, the Occupying Power and third States?"
Given South Africa's past, the HSRC had an "obvious interest" in pursuing these issues. After 15 months of research, its report concluded that:
"....Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise, which implements a system of apartheid."
Although occupation is legal after armed conflict, it's intended only to be temporary. International law also prohibits the unilateral annexation or permanent acquisition of territory through force, and Fourth Geneva obligates signatories to protect civilians in time of war and occupation.
Its Article 3 states:
"Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat (out of the fight) by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria."
Its Article 4 defines "protected persons" as follows:
"Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals."
Its Article 49 states:
"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive." Neither shall "The Occupying Power....deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
In addition, numerous UN resolutions established "no legal validity" for occupied land acquisitions or settlement building. When violations of international law occur, no nation may recognize or support the unlawful situation or the state responsible.
In addition, colonialism and apartheid are particularly serious international law breaches because they fundamentally violate core legal order standards and values. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed self-determination as "one of the essential principles of contemporary international law," obligating all states to respect and promote it. Colonialism is in clear violation.
The 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (the Declaration on Colonialism), condems "colonialism in all its forms and manifestations," including settlements deemed to be illegal.