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Want to end Israel's military regime? Stop calling it an 'occupation'

Israel’s control over the West Bank has long ago morphed into a regime based on ethnic discrimination and segregation. Let’s start calling it like it is.

By Yariv Mohar

A Palestinian man herds his sheep near the separation wall on the outskirts of Jerusalem, February 17, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

A Palestinian man herds his sheep near the separation wall on the outskirts of Jerusalem, February 17, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

Recently we have been seeing the resurgence of a right-wing discourse that opposes both the annexationist far-right and the left. Instead of supporting far-reaching solutions, these rightists believe that the status quo in the West Bank is preferable and must be kept up for as long as possible. In any case, say the supporters of the status quo, we have not faced any significant international pressure against Israel; thus we can continue with business as usual for quite a while, until conditions become more favorable to us. Unfortunately, they are probably right — at least for now.

Many are not aware of this, but contrary to popular belief, the occupation is actually not illegitimate according to international law. According to the law, the occupation must be ended at some point, and as long as it exists, it must adhere to certain rules and limitations. It’s not for nothing that international law defines how the occupying power must act — since in principle, military occupation is legitimate, even if undesirable. Thus the attempt to present the situation in the West Bank as “disputed territories held temporarily under military control until their status is determined” serves the Israeli narrative. It certainly accords with international law, which guides the behavior of most governments and international institutions.

On the other hand, a regime of discrimination that distinguishes between populations based on their ethnicity or nationality is not legitimate according to international law. There are precedents of harsh sanctions against regime of this type, like in the case of Apartheid in South Africa. This is why a regime of discrimination will likely face significant international pressure.

Who is considered human?

The situation in the West Bank is a clear-cut example of a regime of discrimination: one population made up of subjects is denied all civil rights under military law, as opposed to another population made up of citizens from the ruling country. Beyond citizenship, this discrimination is expressed in almost every aspect: public land is allocated to Jewish settlers only (aside from the peanuts given to Palestinians as compensation for their expropriated land); nearly every illegal outpost is connected to water and electricity, while Palestinian villages in Area C (under full Israeli control) live without any infrastructure for years on end; the army prevents the development of Palestinian communities, while Israeli settlers have a direct say in the development of their communities; Israelis and Palestinians face different criminal justice systems, etc.

Palestinians laborers wait to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint leading from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, February 8, 2017. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians laborers wait to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint leading from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, February 8, 2017. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

What, then, are the consequences of all this? As long as Palestinians, human rights organizations, international institutions, and governments view the situation in the West Bank from the lens of temporary occupation, the likelihood that meaningful pressure will be put on Israel to put an end to its military regime — or grant citizenship to the Palestinians there — is relatively small. If these various players begin to view the situation in the West Bank as it is — a perpetual regime of discrimination — the chances for international pressure will grow.

Furthermore, should more governments and institutions begin to speak about a regime of discrimination, they will be obligated to act according to both international law and legal precedents vis-a-vis these kinds of regimes.

The discussion around the term “occupation” often revolves around whom the territory belongs to. The term “regime of discrimination” brings up a discussion over who is worthy of being considered a human deserving of equal rights. It brings up a world of associations that, as far as morals and emotions go, is far darker and clearer. People do not tend to get into a discussion over land in a territory far away from them, but few are the people who can remain apathetic toward institutionalized discrimination. Should we manage to change the way we view the West Bank, the supporters of the status quo will discover that the price of maintaining this regime will only increase.

Yariv Mohar is an Israeli human rights activist. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bruce Gould

      What to do, what to do, what to do? Security! Hamas! No partner for peace! It’s time to remember that over 100 retired Israeli generals sent a letter to Netanyahu about what to do:

      http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.624251

      The letter was initiated by a former Armored Corps commander, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amnon Reshef. He told Yedioth Ahronoth in an interview published Friday, and posted in English on Yedioth’s Ynetnews.com website, that he was “tired of a reality of rounds of fighting every few years, instead of a genuine effort to adopt the Saudi initiative.”

      He was referring to the Saudi-backed peace proposal that was adopted unanimously by the Arab League in 2002 (here is the full text) and later endorsed 56-0 by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, with Iran abstaining.

      Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        Wow, a lot of generals! Wasn’t it war hero-general Rabin who said we could trust Arafat which then led to massive terrorist attacks and over 1000 Israelis killed and thousands more wounded. Wasn’t it war hero-general Barak who said “we can unilaterally leave southern Lebanon without an agreement with the government there” and which led to HIZBULLAH taking control and then a major war and the threat existing to this day? Wasn’t it war-hero general Sharon who said that “we can unilaterally leave the Gaza Strip, there is no danger of HAMAS taking over, but if there should be a threat from there, we can bomb the heck out of them and the whole world will accept it”?
        I don’t see a lot of political/diplomatic wisdom in generals. Reshef is “tired of fighting every few years” so he thinks that all we have to do is say “I want peace” enough and the Arabs will accept us.
        Most soldiers in history were mercenaries. The idea that generals are brilliant “super-patriots” who know what is best for their country is a very recent invention, and as post-1940 France showed, is frequently not true.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Rabin didn’t say we could trust Arafat. He got Arafat to trust him.

          Clinton: Rabin inspired trust even in Arafat
          http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4606642,00.html

          Then Rabin got murdered. By a Jew. Rabin’s mistake was not to trust Arafat, it was to trust that Jews would not murder him for making peace. That is where Rabin was foolish.

          And btw your “gatekeepers” were intelligence and security experts not mainly “generals.” Meir Dagan was Mossad Chief. The idea that Israel should have stayed in Lebanon if only it listened to you is ludicrous rewriting of history.

          Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        The Saudi peace initiative gives the option to 5 million descendants of Arab refugees to “return” to live in Israel, even though they never lived here.

        Even if only 20% of them would choose to “return”, that would be 1 million new Arab citizens. How would that work out? It just wouldn’t. We don’t want 1 million additional internal enemies who grew up by being brain washed to hate Israel, Zionists and Jews.

        When Peres suggested that things like that would need to be negotiated in order to make that initiative acceptable, he was told, take the offer as is or leave it.

        That is why the Arab Peace Initiative has been dead in the water for many years. As soon the Arabs show more flexibility, the API may have a chance. But not before.

        Next!

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “As soon the Arabs show more flexibility, the API may have a chance. But not before.”

          Ya gotta love that. From people who are so rigid and obstinate that if you move one cinder block from underneath one trailer in Amona they go into paroxysms of hysterical agony and rioting.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Yep I gotta admit, we ARE rigid about maximizing the chance of survival in this very rough neighborhood which is know as the Middle East. Except that nothing is in the Middle in this neighborhood. Everything is extreme.

            Now Benny, why does our survival bug you so much? Are you an extremist too?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ​Amona maximizes “the chance of survival”?

            Such bullshit I know even you have to blush saying it. Still plugging that “we are just trying to survive” line loooong past when it was believable.

            “nothing is in the Middle in this neighborhood”

            Pathetic Abu Mazen is genuinely in the middle politically. But he is weak. And corrupted. And Israel carefully keeps him that way. People like Lieberman and Netanyahu pounce on people in the middle. People in the middle are their worst fear. Your technique is to define the right as the middle and whine about how no one will meet you in the middle. Poor Gustav, he wants to date a Zionist Palestinian and keeps getting stood up, standing there forlornly with his blue and white roses in his hand.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Whatever Benny. You don’t even believe your own lies. Especially about Abu Mazen.

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Yep I gotta admit, we ARE rigid about maximizing the chance of survival in this very rough neighborhood which is know as the Middle East.”

            No, you psychotic Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJew bigot, you gotta stop we-ing your pathetic little Anti-SemiteJewboy pants and grow the f*** up, so you can finally admit that:

            1. No one forced your malignant messianic mob of mass-murdering foreign fakestinian zio-Jew terrorists, land-thieves and usurpers to target Palestine for total takeover over a century ago.

            And

            2. No one forced your malignant messianic mob of mass-murdering foreign fakestinian zio-Jew terrorists, land-thieves and usurpers to actually carry out their nefarious plan and violently invade, colonize and ethnically cleanse Palestine in the name of Jews everywhere.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Arab hating? Moi?!

            Nah, I like Arabs the way you and they like me. Ok, Chrissy boy? 👍🏿

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Arab hating? Moi?!

            Nah, I like Arabs the way you and they like me. Ok, Chrissy boy? 👍🏿”

            Aah, ok then, you psychotic Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot dick head. 🤠

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            🖕

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “🖕”

            Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz💤

            Another “illuminating” non-response from 972mag’s resident Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot. This raging Zionist nutjob truly reflects the psychotic mentality of the pro colonialism, pro ethnic cleansing, pro-apartheid, pro genocide, anti-Palestine, anti-Arab, self-hating Zionist anti-Semite crowd: A poor, deluded, incontinent fool continually living in the hope that his zios will be proud of him…someday.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            🖕

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “🖕”

            Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz💤

            Another “illuminating” non-response from 972mag’s resident Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot. This raging Zionist nutjob truly reflects the psychotic mentality of the pro colonialism, pro ethnic cleansing, pro-apartheid, pro genocide, anti-Palestine, anti-Arab, self-hating Zionist anti-Semite crowd: A poor, deluded, incontinent fool continually living in the hope that his zios will be proud of him…someday.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            SAUDI ARABIA

            Read this Chrissy….

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

            I won’t even quote from it. It is too horrific. Saudi Arabia definitely qualifies to be another Arab apartheid state according to your definition of apartheid, Chrissy. C’mon, daaaaaaaarrllliiiing, you can do it…. just admit it….
            …the truth will set you free Chrissy 😎

            Benny? Wanna give him a nudge? I think Chrissy is a reluctant bride, he needs a bit of nudge from his betters. You are better than Chris, aren’t you Benny…? …. well ….? Benny…? Are you there….? You are not as far gone as Chris, are you Benny? Help him. He needs help from his kind….

            Reply to Comment
    2. carmen

      What’s in a name? that which we call an occupation. By any other name would stink to the heavens. Billy Shakespire

      Please don’t squawk about a name change when some people are just starting to accept an occupation (UN for example?)

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        “(UN for example?)”

        Funny how the Arabs love referring to the UN when the UN sings from the same hymn book which the Arabs and their supporters like.

        Contrast their reaction to the 1947 UN GA Resolution 181 which was to partition Palestine into two states. One Jewish state one Arab state. Funny how the Arabs rioted and started murdering any Palestinian Jew they could lay their hands on, in reaction to THAT UN resolution.

        But now of course, after it didn’t work out for them too well, they cry foul and they whine: “we wuz robbed” … “we want our money back” … “wind the clock back”…

        …aaaand they point at the same UN and complain when Israel ignores it too. What did “Shakespire” say about that? 🙄

        Reply to Comment
        • TB7

          “Contrast their reaction to the 1947 UN GA Resolution 181 which was to partition Palestine into two states. One Jewish state one Arab state. Funny how the Arabs rioted and started murdering any Palestinian Jew they could lay their hands on, in reaction to THAT UN resolution.”

          Actually the Palestinian Arabs reacted to nearly 10 years of intence Jewish terrorism which was the result of no Jewish party accepting anything less then conquering the whole of Palestine. If you want to suggest that the Jewish Agency and Ben Gurion “accepted” the partition resolution you are highly misled. His proposal to the UN was to put the whole of Palestine under Jewish control and postpone its independency until there was a significant Jewish majority.

          What he extracted from the resolution was the right to statehood. He considered the partition territory to be nothing else then a beachhead for expansion and expulsion. This is the reality. Back then and today.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Liar!

            So what was the 1929 massacre of Hebron’s and Safed’s Jews (who were not even Zionists), by Arabs, a reaction to?

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Liar!

            So what was the 1929 massacre of Hebron’s and Safed’s Jews (who were not even Zionists), by Arabs, a reaction to?”

            Mouth-breather!

            Your malignant messianic mob of mass-murdering foreign fakestinian-zio Jew-terrorists and home invaders have been coveting and eyeing Palestine for violent ethnic cleansing and colonization since the 1880s.

            So your “1929” was a reaction to everything that preceded it, which includes the wholesale co-opting of Judaism for political purposes, by your filthy foreign fakestinian-zio freaks.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “your “1929” was a reaction to everything that preceded it”

            So tell us please o’ frothing mouther what did the Jews do to deserve to be massacred in 1929 in Hebron and Safed?

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “So tell us please o’ frothing mouther what did the Jews do to deserve to be massacred in 1929 in Hebron and Safed?”

            Nah, o’ deranged Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJew baiter, when you are done frothing at the mouth about your “1929 massacre of Hebron’s and Safed’s Jews” and “what did the Jews do to deserve to be massacred in 1929 in Hebron and Safed”, please go find a shrink you can project all your psychotic Zionist Anti-Semitism and self-hatred onto.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Ah ok then dick head 🤠

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Ah ok then dick head 🤠”

            Another illuminating answer, full of spittle and hatred, from 972mag’s resident zio Anti-SemiteJew bigot nutjob. He truly reflects the psychotic mentality of the pro colonialism, pro ethnic cleansing, pro-apartheid, pro genocide, anti-Palestine, anti-Arab, self-hating Zionist anti-Semite crowd: A poor, deluded, incontinent fool continually living in the hope that his zios will be proud of him…someday.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            🖕

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “🖕”

            Not enough spittle, Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJew bigot.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            🖕

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “🖕”

            Not enough spittle, Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJew bigot.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-infant-critically-hurt-in-traffic-accident-caused-by-stone-throwing-palestinians-1.509492

            “West Bank terror:Israeli Infant Critically Hurt in Traffic Accident Caused by Stone-throwing Palestinians
            Three other people, including the baby’s mother and sisters, sustain moderate injuries; police say driver lost control and smashed into passing bus.

            A 2-year-old Israeli infant is in critical condition and her mother and two sisters sustained moderate injuries on Thursday evening, in a West Bank traffic accident that police say was caused by stones thrown by Palestinians at passing vehicles.”

            Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      End the Occupation………………..by repatriating the illegal Jordanians squatters.

      Reply to Comment
      • tb7

        Do you really want to check who wasn’t born in Palestine or never legally acquired its citizenship before 1948 and repatriate them (and their descendants)?

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          Ask Chris. He will give you an illuminating answer full of spittle and hatred. He truly reflects the mentality of the pro Arab, anti Israel, anti Jewish crowd. I hope you guys are proud of him.

          If you wanna know why peace is so elusive in the Middle East, it is because of people like Chris. Oops, did I say people? I meant morons 😏

          Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Ask Chris.”

            Nah, he should ask 972mag’s resident zio Anti-SemiteJew. You truly reflect the psychotic mentality of the pro colonialism, pro ethnic cleansing, pro-apartheid, pro genocide, anti-Palestine, anti-Arab, self-hating Zionist anti-Semite crowd.

            If you wanna know why peace is so elusive in the Middle East, TB7, it is because of people like Anti-SemiteJew. Oops, did I say people? I meant psychotic, passive-aggressive, self-hating zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot morons. https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/72×72/1f60f.png

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “anti Jewish”

            Anti “Jewish”? Moi?!

            Nah, Anti-SemiteJew, I like your psychotic Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJew bigots the way you and they like me. Ok, psychotic Arab-hating zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot? 👍🏿

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Not enough spittle in your rant Chris. You can do better 🤣

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “Not enough spittle in your rant Chris.”

            Nah, you psychotic projecting zio Anti-SemiteJew bigot, that spittle in your rant was all yours.

            “You can do better”

            Yeah, and you can’t.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            🖕👐 😅

            Reply to Comment
          • Chris

            “🖕👐 😅”

            Another “illuminating” non-response from 972mag’s resident Arab-hating psychotic projecting zio Anti-SemiteJewboy bigot. This raging Zionist nutjob truly reflects the psychotic mentality of the pro colonialism, pro ethnic cleansing, pro-apartheid, pro genocide, anti-Palestine, anti-Arab, self-hating Zionist anti-Semite crowd: A poor, deluded, incontinent fool continually living in the hope that his zios will be proud of him…someday.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “Seventeen months of terror – 13 September 2015 to the present

            In 2016, 12 vehicular ramming attacks and 100 stabbing attacks were thwarted by security forces.
            Since 13 September 2015, 47 people have been killed in terrorist attacks and 659 people (including 4 Palestinians) injured.
            There have been 169 stabbing attacks and 104 attempted stabbings; 133 shootings; 55 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one vehicle (bus) bombing”

            According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), beginning in September 2015, there has been a wave of terrorist attacks which began on the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem. The attacks later spread to Judea and Samaria and even crossed the Green Line into Israel under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger.”

            Reply to Comment
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