Groups from across the world ask UN General Assembly to act against Israeli apartheid

More than 450 civil society and human rights groups from across the globe released a letter addressed to the ongoing 75th session of the UNGA asking it to revive its anti-apartheid bodies and take action to end Israeli occupation of Palestine

September 24, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: Anne Paq/

Palestinian civil society, along with scores of other groups, from across the globe launched a campaign on Tuesday, September 22 demanding that the United Nations General Assembly “assume its responsibility for investigating and ending Israeli apartheid, as it did in South Africa.” The campaign coincides with the 75th anniversary commemoration of the first sitting of the UNGA going on at the moment at New York.

The campaign began with the release of a letter signed by 452 civil society organizations from across the globe. The letter said “apartheid is a crime against humanity” and acknowledges the crucial role played by the UN to fight against it in the past.

The letter noted several previous acknowledgments by UN teams about the nature of Israeli policies inside the occupied territories. It quoted the findings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in December 2019 according to which Israel has “policy and practice of segregation and apartheid” against Palestinians on both sides of the green line. The letter also quoted the South African National Statement in the UN Human Rights Council in June this year which highlights that the proposed “annexation [of parts of the occupied West Bank as announced by Israel] would be yet another example of complete impunity that makes a mockery of this Council and would gravely breach international laws.”

The signatories reiterated the long-held demands of the Palestinian people for the right to self-determination and end of Israeli occupation. It also demanded that the UN General Assembly take steps to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

They also asked the members of the UN General Assembly to launch an investigation into the Israeli apartheid regime and hold individuals and states responsible in aiding Israel. It demanded the reconstitution of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid and UN Center Against Apartheid which were disbanded after the end of apartheid regime in South Africa.

Signatories of the letter also asked for a ban on arms trade and all kinds of security cooperation with Israel by the member states of the UNGA and prohibition of all trade with the Israeli settlements inside the occupied territories.

Signatories include civil society groups, political parties and trade unions and student organizations from across the world including Palestine, the UK, Ireland, the US and India.    

Apoorva Gautam, South Asia coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, said, “Israel’s plan to formally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, has brought into sharp relief its decades of ongoing de facto annexation and apartheid.” 

Palestinians and other civil society groups are also observing a week of action, from September 22–28, in support of their demands. The activities during this week involve several social media campaigns, including tweeting with the hashtag #EducateAgainstApartheid to make the people aware about the Israeli apartheid regime on September 23.

On subsequent days the campaign will include a twitter storm, launch of a video titled “lives under apartheid” on September 25 and another video, “Global Response to Israeli Apartheid: Together we prevail” on Monday, September 28. Apoorva Gautam said, “through these we hope to mainstream the struggle against Israeli apartheid.”

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