The Russell Tribunal, in its findings on Monday, stated that the people in Palestine are being subjected to “an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law”.
The findings were made at a press conference by the jurors: Stephane Hessel, Ronnie Kasrils, Jose Antonio, Martin Palin, Cynthia McKinnesy, Mairead Maguire, Michael Mansfield, Yasmin Sooka, Aminata Traore and Alice Walker.
Mansfield, who read the findings and referring to what is happening in Palestine, said: “This discriminatory regime manifests in varying intensity and forms against different categories of Palestinians depending on their location.
“The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the occupied Palestinian territory are subjected to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid.
“Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subjected to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognized human rights. The state of Israel is legally obliged to respect the prohibition of apartheid contained in international law.
“In addition to being considered a crime against humanity, the practice of apartheid is universally prohibited. The tribunal has considered Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people under its jurisdiction in the light of the legal definition of apartheid.”
The tribunal recommended that “Israel must cease its apartheid acts and its policies of persecution and offer appropriate assurances and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition Israel must make full reparation for the injuries caused by its internationally wrongful acts, with regard to any damage whether material or moral.”
Responding to a question on whether the tribunal’s findings were legally binding Mansfield said that they never “pretended to be a court of law. Otherwise we would have been far stricter, taking my 42 years of legal experience into account. We are a citizens’ tribunal,” he said.
Kasrils added that the Israeli government had been offered a seat on the panel but refused to come.
Members of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) protested outside the Homecoming Centre, where the press conference was held. Some protestors were wearing kangaroo outfits. They also staged a protest on Sunday while the tribunal was in session.
In a press statement, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said that Israel was being “depicted in the most damning light possible without even a token effort being made to subject Palestinian actions to similar critical scrutiny”.
During the press conference Maguire said that peace was possible in the Middle East: “Human rights must be upheld. We as a human family take a strong non-violent stand against these violations.”