Former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon joined a rising number of international diplomats and rights groups that recognize the apathy of the Israeli state towards Palestinians and call for a fresh international approach to end its occupation of Palestine.
In an article published in Financial Times, Moon argued that the current approach for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine carried out through the conventional “peace process” of negotiation and peace-building measures will not work as the Israel-Palestine conflict is not a “conflict between equals.” Moon emphasized that the world needs to recognize “the fundamental asymmetry between the parties,” saying that the conflict is between a powerful state which controls all aspects of life and people who are under occupation.
Moon said that it looks like Israel seeks to maintain a permanent occupation of Palestinian territories and domination of Palestinian people. He argued that the Israeli policy regime in the occupied territories is dual and therefore discriminatory, “resulting in a situation that arguably constitute apartheid.”
Moon was the secretary general of the UN between 2007 and 2016. During his tenure, he was criticized by pro-Palestinian groups for following a conventional policy towards the Israel-Palestine conflict.
By calling out Israel as an apartheid state, Moon has joined a growing number of activists and diplomats to make this claim. In April this year, Human Right Watch also accused Israel of following apartheid policies against Palestinians. In January, B’Tselem had called the dual policy regime followed by Israel across its controlled territories from the river to the sea as discriminatory and apathetic, accusing it of following a Jewish supremacist agenda.
Moon also asserted that Israel has enjoyed some kind of impunity for its violations of international laws in the occupied territories and its oppressive policies like demolition of houses, confiscation of Palestinian lands, building of illegal settlements, and pursuing certain kinds of collective punishment actions. He mentioned the role of the US in such Israeli impunity.
Criticizing successive US regimes for promising a vague “equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity and dignity” for both Palestinians and Israel, Moon argued that such statements “ring hollow in the face of policies and actions that actively undermine these principles”.
Israel has consistently denied the charges of apartheid, calling it anti-Semitic. It has led a serious counter campaign in various countries lobbying for a law to ban the activities of movements such as Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), which has been a pioneer in calling out Israeli occupation policies inside the Palestinian territories as apartheid and asking for the world to take punitive actions against Israel as it did during the South African apartheid regime.