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Separateness without equality

Apartheid (meaning "apart-ness" or "separation") segregates groups based on racial, political or socio-economic distinctions. In Israel, a two-tier system of privilege and favouritism for Jews compared with deprivation and discrimination for Palestinians is blatantly obvious, deepening fear and distrust concerning change and the threat of annihilation.

More than 5 million Palestinians are denied equal rights and fair treatment by Israeli ultra-nationalists' enforcement of ethnic segregation. Under bellicose Israeli military occupation, Palestinians suffer humiliating abuses including: no right of free speech, expression, assembly or movement; arrest and imprisonment without charge or trial; home searches without warrant; and no right to vote for the Israeli government (even though it controls virtually every aspect of their beleaguered lives).

Talks on an accord for peaceful coexistence and reconciliation have foundered on Israeli PM Netanyahu's new pre-condition - that the Palestinian delegation must recognise Israel as the "nation state of the Jewish people" - an exclusively Jewish state. It seemed obvious that Netanyahu, aptly described as a fossilised relic, was looking for a cop-out to pacify his hardcore right-wing extremists, and thereby torpedoed any potential deal. Throughout the negotiating process, Israel continued to expand and speed-up illegal settlements, reportedly processing plans for an additional 8,983 settler homes. An estimated 180,000 Palestinians live in Israel-controlled areas. Israel controls all Palestinian borders, all airspace, all imports and exports, water access and all movement between towns and cities.

The Gaza Strip - surrounded, besieged and controlled by Israel - has been sealed off and effectively turned into the world's largest open-air concentration camp. Millions of displaced Palestinians remain refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, banned from returning to their former homes and land in present-day Israel, even though the right of return for refugees is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Continuing the suffocating occupation will be catastrophic for all sides. The growth of Israel is tied to its enormous high-tech start-ups and overpowering nuclear arsenal. The United Nations must take a more pro-active stance in remedying an untenable situation. The campaign to end Israel's apartheid has been building, bringing pressure to bear for boycotts, divestment and sanctions which I personally see as the only way to break the strident in-denial bullyrag persecution stifling dissent.

No Holds Bard Charles Frederickson

Bangkok


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