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APARTHEID ISRAEL: A Critical Reading of the Draft Permanent Agreement, known as the "Geneva Accords" (Provisional Title), by Uri Davis

Paper submitted before the Institute of African and Arab Studies of the Russian Academy of Science, December 2003

Dr. Uri Davis is an honorary research fellow at the University of Durham's Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (IMEIS) and at the University of Exeter's Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS); founder member of the Movement Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine (MAIAP) and AL-BEIT: Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel; Observer-Member of the Palestine National Council (PNC). To contact Uri Davis, write to uridavis@actcom.co.il.

Introduction

The constitutive documents legitimizing the establishment of the State of Israel as a "Jewish State" alongside the State of Palestine as an "Arab State" in the territory of former British Mandate Palestine, joined together in an economic union with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under international UN administration is UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 1947 recommending the partition of Palestine with economic union.

The said Resolution together with all other UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the question of Palestine, such as UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (resolving inter alia that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest possible date) or UN Security Council Resolution 251, 267, 271 and 298 (declaring invalid inter alia Israel's acts to unify Jerusalem as its capital and condemning Israel's failure to comply with UN resolutions on Jerusalem) endow the idea of the "Jewish State" legitimacy provided the said state is a bi-national state adhering to a democratic constitution and conforms to the register of UN resolutions on the question of Palestine and the standards of international law

The idea of the "Jewish State" as represented in UN resolutions is diametrically opposed the idea of the "Jewish State" in the political Zionist sense of the term. The political Zionist idea of a "Jewish state" is that of a sovereign state, established and consolidated in the country of Palestine, such as attempts to guarantee in law (e.g., Absentees Property Law of 1950) and in practice (e.g., the mass expulsion, under the cover of the 1948-49 war, of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people) a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes (a demographic majority of ethnic Jews) in the territories under its control. In other words, an apartheid state. The UN idea of a "Jewish state" is, as noted above, a bi-national state adhering to a democratic constitution and conforms to the register of UN resolutions on the question of Palestine and the standards of international law, namely, a state that is essentially democratic with some "Jewish" decorations (e.g., the official day of rest being the seventh day of the week, Saturday, rather than the sixth, Friday, or the first, Sunday) - definitely not a fundamentalist apartheid state.

From the Israeli political Zionist point of view the primary object of the Draft Permanent Agreement, known as the "Geneva Accords", is represented in the last Article of the said Draft, namely, Article 17, which stipulates Final Clauses including a final clause providing for a "UN Security Council Resolutions/UN General Assembly Resolution endorsing the agreement and superceding the previous UN resolutions" (emphasis added), thereby removing the international legal foundation for challenging the reality of the State of Israel as a "Jewish State" in the political Zionist sense of the term above, an apartheid state, and hence, reducing the prospects of international sanctions and boycott against Israeli apartheid.

The Dangerous Failings of the "Geneva Accords"

The Draft Permanent Agreement, known as the "Geneva Accords pioneered by former Minister of Justice of the State of Israel, Dr. Yossi Beilin and former Minister of Culture of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Yasser Abd Rabbo, aiming in the first instance to present an agreed model for Israeli-Palestinian permanent status agreement, and succeed where the Taba Summit of 2001 between the Government of the State of Israel and the PLO has failed, is not likely to achieve its stated aim of an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based "on a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace and achieving historic reconciliation", and will probably tear at the seams for the same reasons that brought about the demise of the "Oslo Accords" and the subsequent "peace process".

The primary cause, in the view of this writer, for the projected demise of the said "Geneva Accords" is represented by their failure to address the core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely, what is defined in international law a crime against humanity, namely, the "ethnic cleansing" the territories that came under the control of the Israeli army from their indigenous Palestinian Arab population, razing some 400 Palestinian rural and urban localities to the ground in the course of and subsequent to the 1948-49 war, and underpinning the said crime against humanity with the apartheid legislation of pre-1967 State of Israel and the Defence (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 in the post 1967 occupied territories.

Specifically the primary cause, in the view of this writer, for the projected demise of the said "Geneva Accords" is represented by their failure to address the question of the Palestinian Nakba and 1948 Palestine refugees in conformity to relevant UN resolutions on the question of Palestine, notably UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948, and secure the removal from the Israeli law books of such strategic pieces of apartheid legislation as the Absentees Property Law of 1950, the World Zionist Organization (WZO)/Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel (JA) Status law of 1952 and the Jewish National Fund Law (JNF) of 1953.

A contributing cause, in the view of this writer, for the projected demise of the said "Geneva Accords" is represented in their further failure to address the circumstance of 1 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel (20 per cent of the total population of pre-1967 State of Israel), of whom some 20 percent are internally displaced persons, "present absentees", and their rights, as well as the rights of the 1948 Palestine refugees, to the titles of their properties inside Israel and return.

In the view of this writer, these fundamental omissions are likely to bring about the demise of the "Geneva Accords" as did the parallel failure of the "Oslo Accords" beginning with the Madrid "Peace Conference" of 1991 and the "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements" (DOP) of 1993 agreeing to postpone the core of the question of Palestine (including Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and co-operation with other neighbours). The "Oslo Accords" fell apart because they bracketed negotiations on the core of the question of Palestine and replaced them with a "peace process" and "interim arrangements", and the "Geneva Accords" are likely also to fall apart because, though recognizing the core of the question of Palestine for what it is, they aim to evade the best practical formula for a "just, lasting and comprehensive peace and achieving historic reconciliation", namely a solution that seeks to conform rather than abort UN resolutions on the question of Palestine.

Setting aside the blatant imbalance characterizing the current "Geneva Accords", such as positing a non-militarized State of Palestine, while leaving the current level of militarization of the State of Israel unchallenged, the failure of the "Geneva Accords" to address future of the 1 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel against the backdrop of to Israeli apartheid legislation and the formulas the "Accords" set for the "solution" of the question of the 1948 Palestine refugees, additionally allows for the possibility of further criminal violation of international law by the Governments of apartheid Israel and confessional Lebanon of forcibly expelling the 1948 Palestine refugee community and the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel into the territories a "Bantustan Palestine".

Introducing an Alternative: A Democratic State for All of Its Citizens and Refugees

Citizenship is a certificate representing a legal relationship between the individual and the state. Democratic citizenship is a certificate representing the recognition by the state of the right of every citizen to equal access to the political process of the state (e.g., to elect and be elected to all of the offices of the state); to the civil process (e.g., to equal standing before the law); to social and welfare services (e.g., religious services); and to the material resources of the state (e.g., land and water).

Like all rights, democratic citizenship as we know it today is a right won by the struggle of the people vis-a-vis the state.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality and (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Unlike the US legislature, which recognizes, under a democratic Constitution, one universal citizenship for all US citizens without distinction of nationality, religion, language, tribe, sex, sexual orientation or any other social status - the State of Israel does not have one single universal citizenship for all of its citizens. Rather, informed by the dominant ideology of political Zionism, the Israeli legislator (the Knesset) legislated a schedule of four classes of citizenship based on racial discrimination and representing blatant inequality in law, in other words, representing a new form of apartheid.

It is in order to underline here that I refer to the term "Apartheid" in the narrow and technical sense of the word, namely, as a term designating a political programme predicated on discrimination in law on a racialist basis. Apartheid is not racism and racism is not apartheid Racism is regrettably prevalent in all states, including liberal democratic states such as the current western liberal democracies. It is wrong to single out the State of Israel on the alleged grounds that racism in Israel is significantly more prevalent than in many other member states of the United Nations. And I refer here to the term "racial discrimination" as defined in Article 1(1) of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1966 (any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.)

Apartheid, however, is a different phenomenon. Apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated in law through Acts of Parliament. In liberal democratic states, those victimized by racism have (if they can raise the money) legal recourse to seek the protection of the law under a democratic Constitution, namely a Constitution that embodies the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In an apartheid state, on the other hand, the state enforces racism through the legal system, criminalizes expressions of humanitarian concern and obligates the citizenry through Acts of Parliament to make racist choices and conform to racist behaviour. After the demise of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa, Israel remains, to my knowledge, the only member state of the UN that is an apartheid state, and it is correct to single out Israel on this basis.

In the State of Israel the right of a citizen classified in law as a "non-Jew" (namely, an "Arab") to partake in the political process is formally equal to the right of a citizen classified in law as a "Jew". Likewise the standing of a citizen classified in law as a "non-Jew" before the courts of law is formally equal to the standing of citizen classified in law as a "Jew".

On the other hand the right of a citizen classified in law as a "non-Jew" to the social and welfare services and the material resources of the State are not equal to those of a citizen classified in law as a "Jew", and, until the ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court sitting as High Court of Justice on the case of Qaadan versus Qatzir in March 2000, such citizens of the state of Israel as are defined in law as "non-Jews" (namely, "Arabs") were denied access to 93 per cent of the territory of pre-1967 Israel administered by the Israel Lands Administration (ILA).

In other words, the Israeli legal system is based fundamentally on the determination of at least two classes of citizenship: Class "A" citizenship for such citizens as are classified in law as "Jews", and, as such are allocated in law a privileged access to the material resources of the State and the social as well as the welfare services of the State only because they are classified in law as "Jews" versus Class "B" citizenship for such citizens as are classified in law as "non-Jews", namely, as "Arabs", and, as such, are discriminated against in law with regard to their right to equal access to the material resources of the State as well as the social and welfare services of the State, first and foremost their right to equal access to land and water only because they are classified in law as "non-Jews".

But subject to Class "B" citizenship above, there exists in the State of Israel by force of the Absentees Property Law of 1950 also Class "C" citizenship for such Arab citizens of the State of Israel who are present inside the state, yet classified in law as "absent". These Arab citizens are indeed present inside Israel as taxpayers and voters who cast (or refrain from casting) their vote in the election ballot - but, being classified under the said obscene law as "absentees" - they have been denied all their rights to their properties (e.g., lands, houses, corporations, shares, bank accounts, bank safes, etc.) such as were valid until 1948. Some 20 per cent of the constituency of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, approximately 200,000 persons, are classified in Israeli law as Class "C" citizens, namely, as "present-absentees".

Also, subject to the said Absentees Property law of 1950, the Israeli legislator (the Knesset) determined in law a Class "D" citizenship, namely, the denied citizenship of some 750,000 1948 Palestine refugees and their descendants currently numbering according to UNRWA figures over 4 million persons.

Under the terms of UN Resolutions 181 (Plan for Partition with Economic Union) of November 1947, the constitutive document of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine recommending the partition of the territory of British Mandate Palestine into a "Jewish State" and an "Arab State" - the currently approximately 4 million 1948 Palestine refugees are entitled to the citizenship of the "Jewish State". Yet, the Israeli legislator (the Knesset), by force of the said Absentees Property Law of 1950, and in violation of the norms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law, denationalized the mass of the 1948 Palestine refugees, denying their right to Israeli citizenship, thereby rendering them stateless.

Under the terms of the said constitutive document of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine (UN Resolutions 181) all Jews ordinarily resident in the territories allocated by the UN for the "Arab State" and their descendants are entitled to "Arab State" citizenship and all Arabs ordinarily resident In the territories allocated by the UN for the "Jewish State" (including, of course, all 1948 Palestine refugees and their descendants) are entitled to "Jewish State" citizenship, let alone to the title to their properties inside Israel and to return.

It took the UN by far too long to realize that political Zionism is a form of racism representing a blatant violation of the norms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law. It was only in the wake of the 1967 war and the consequent war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, challenged by the renewed resistance of the Palestinian Arab people led by the PLO, that the UN corrected its record and passed General Assembly Resolution 3379 of November 1975 determining that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination". And it is indeed most regrettable that on the wake of the Middle East Peace Conference convened in Madrid in October-November 1991, co-sponsored by the US and the former USSR, the General Assembly muddied its record again by passing Resolution 46/86 of December 1991, deciding to revoke the said determination of Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.

Let us all hope that following the forthcoming UN World Conference Against Racism convened in Durban South Africa, August-September 2001, as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, August-September 2002, and predicated on the clear and firm distinction between Judaism as a confessional statement that strictly belongs to the private realm of the individuals concerned versus Zionism as a political programme that like all political programmes ought to be critically attended to and judged by the extent that they are compatible with the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law - all those committed to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the consistent application of the standards of international law worldwide will coordinate their efforts with the view to motivate the UN to recognize that Zionism is a new form of Apartheid.

There is little doubt that, as in the case of the dismantlement of Apartheid in South Africa, the UN is able to play a critical role, mutually beneficial to all parties concerned, by applying to the State of Israel suitably corresponding sanctions with the view to suggest to the Government of the State of Israel that just as the international community would not tolerate apartheid in South Africa it could and it would not tolerate apartheid in Israel.

All parties involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, first and foremost the State of Israel, the colonial occupation party as well as the PLO, the anti-colonial resistance party could do worse than remember that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law frame universal norms for the removal of injustice in such terms as secure the human rights and fundamental freedoms of everyone, including those of the former colonized and those of the former colonizers; those of the former occupier and those of the former occupied; both the Arab and the Hebrew peoples of Palestine as equal future Palestinian Arab and Palestinian Hebrew citizens under a democratic constitution of one (unitary) state or two states (federated or confederated, with economic union and the city of Jerusalem under international UN administration).

During the heyday of the apartheid regime in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church educated its constituents, almost exclusively classified as "White" in the apartheid legal system, and their supporters in the West and beyond, that to oppose the political programme of apartheid, to be anti-apartheid, was somehow tantamount to being "anti-Christian", and thus, "pro-Devil", or worse, "pro-Communist".

In a similar way, under the dominance of political Zionist ideology and practice, Zionist and Israeli educational and information establishments educate their constituents, almost exclusively classified as "Jews" in the Zionist legal system, and their supporters in the West and beyond, that to oppose the political programme of Zionism, to be anti-Zionist, is somehow tantamount to being "anti-Jewish", and thus, "anti-Semitic", or worse, "pro-Nazi".

It took many decades of protracted struggle, including armed struggle, by the native indigenous ("non-White") peoples of South Africa under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC), supported by international solidarity and culminating in UN sanctions, before the criminal education of equating Christianity with apartheid and being a "good Christian" with being "pro-apartheid" was effectively challenged. In the new South Africa today, where in 1994 the apartheid legal system was dismantled and replaced with a democratic constitution, one would be hard put to find anyone admitting that they were ever pro-apartheid.

The distinct minority of South African citizens classified as "White" in the apartheid legal system, who recognized apartheid to be what it was: an abomination in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a crime under the standards of international law, and who crossed the political lines to join the struggle for democracy in South Africa, have made significant educational and other contributions to this process.

And it will take many decades of protracted struggle, including armed struggle, by the native indigenous ("non-Jewish") peoples of Palestine under a leadership of similar quality to the leadership of the ANC, supported by international solidarity and culminating in UN sanctions, before the criminal education of equating Judaism with Zionism and being a "good Jew" with being "pro-Zionist" is effectively challenged, so that in the new Palestine of tomorrow one would

be hard put to find anyone admitting that they were ever pro-Zionist.

The distinct minority of Israeli citizens classified as "Jews" in the Zionist legal system, who have recognized political Zionism to be what it is: an abomination in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a crime under the standards of international law, and who crossed the political lines to join the struggle for democracy in Palestine, have made and will continue to make significant educational and other contributions to this process.

In other words, it is the hope of this writer that this treatise will establish convincingly the viability of the contrary tenet to the Zionist political tenet above, namely, that in order to be a "good Jew" it is necessary to be anti-Zionist in the same sense that under the apartheid regime in South Africa, in order to be a "good Christian" it was necessary to be anti-apartheid.

Coda

Since 1973, following the adoption of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, ratified by the UN General Assembly Resolution 3068 (XXVIII) and entered into force in 1976, the international community is largely united in the rejection of the values of apartheid political systems, notably, in rejecting the claim that it was a good idea to attempt establish and consolidate a sovereign political system that would endeavour to guarantee in law and in practice a demographic majority of any given tribe or tribes, ethnic and/or confessional group or groups in any given territory, and has become progressively more aware of the beneficial distinction between "nationality" (national identity) and "democratic citizenship" (the rights of the individual vis-à-vis the state).

Most attempts at a political solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hitherto seemed to have assumed that it was not "practical" to enforce compliance with international conventions and UN resolutions and apply the standards international law on all parties involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, first and foremost the Government of the State of Israel, the party in the most blatant violation thereof.

After decades of failing attempts to effect political solutions to the Israeli conflict that in effect accept the political Zionist claim that it is a good idea (or at minimum it was justified) to establish and consolidate in the country of British Mandate Palestine a "Jewish state", namely, a sovereign state such as would attempt to guarantee in law (e.g., Absentees Property Law of 1950) and in practice (e.g., the mass expulsion, under the cover of the 1948-49 war, of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people) a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes (a demographic majority of ethnic Jews) in the territories under its control - and in light of the continuing cruelty and suffering that the implementation of this idea in violation of the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law has inflicted on the indigenous Palestinian Arab people - the time may have come to begin to accept that the continuing failure of such attempts over the past decades suggests that they are less than practical, and that alternative paradigms for a political solution are the more practical.

One of the people most criminally responsible for the plight of the Palestinian Arab people was the late Aba Eban, former Ambassador of the State of Israel to the UN and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He played a most negative role in perpetrating the shameless lie alleging the voluntary exodus of the indigenous Palestinian people from their localities of residence in the course of the 1948-49 war at the behest of Arab leadership.

If I am not mistaken, however, it was the same Aba Eban who observed that in his long political and diplomatic experience, people and governments tend to consider the reasonable course of action only after they have tried every else and failed.

Having attempted over many decades unreasonable courses of action, all predicated on the misguided assumption that it was justified to exempt the Governments of the State of Israel from compliance to the terms of UN Charter, UN resolutions and the standards of international law - the international community, having tries everything else and failed, may now wish to consider the reasonable course of action: a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that conforms to the terms of all UN resolutions on the question of Palestine, including UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 and 194 of 1948.

Uri Davis