This year marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 70th anniversary of the Partition Plan, a half - century of one of the longest military occupations in modern history, and over 10 years of the siege on Gaza. As the world marks these commemorative moments or tries to rewrite or cover them up, we wish to bring to your attention two historic documents that were also produced this year. The first was a report produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) regarding "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid" and the second was an Open Letter from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) to the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Movement.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres withdrew the ESCWA report two days after it was published under pressure from the United States and Israel. The Palestinian Human Rights Organization Council (PHROC) issued a position paper shortly after the report was withdrawn asking that the report be commended for setting the record straight about Israel’s apartheid policies, practices, and laws.
We, agree with the PHROC that the report's content presents a new approach in understanding how Israel has seized control over all aspects of Palestinian life leading to the establishment of an apartheid regime. We confirm what the report has detailed out that Israel is an apartheid state. This is not political but legal, as apartheid is a form of crime against humanity as defined under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
The Open Letter from the NCCOP issued in June of this year also states the importance of recognizing Israel as an apartheid regime. The JAI is part of the NCCOP and thus, asks our partners to demonstrate "costly discipleship" by adopting a number of actions listed in the letter which include defending the Palestinian right to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently and supporting economic measures against Israel until it "complies with international law and implementing UN resolutions urging the ending of its occupation, apartheid and discriminations, and accepting Palestinian refugees to return to their home land and properties."
What both reports have in common is the identification of apartheid and the necessity for people and states to make Israel accountable under international law. Apartheid is a crime against humanity and mandates our collective action.