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Apartheid in the Holy Land

In a landmark report, Human Rights Watch has concluded that the nearly seven million Palestinians in the occupied territories and Israel itself face collective persecution under an apartheid system. These are serious charges with far-reaching implications, particularly for a US administration that has championed human rights.

LONDON – In a new, well-documented report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) asserts that the Israeli government is enforcing a systemic policy to maintain the “domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.” The nearly seven million Palestinians in the occupied territories and within Israel itself face collective persecution under an apartheid system.

Pointing to Israeli laws that enshrine extra-political rights for Jews over Arabs living in the same areas, HRW concludes that the Israeli government is “privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.” While several hundred thousand Israeli settlers live in the occupied territories as full Israeli citizens, the report notes, 2.7 million Palestinians are concentrated in dense population centers under military rule.

Even more ominous are Israel’s emerging population-control measures. “The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a demographic ‘threat’ from Palestinians,” the report avers. “In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality … sets the goal of ‘maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city’ and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.”

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