Netherlands should recognize apartheid in Israel: Human Rights Watch
The Netherlands can set an example for other countries by recognizing that a system of apartheid exists in Israel, said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, during an interview with NU.nl.
Last April, HRW said it considered the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians as systematic discrimination. The Palestinian people are restricted in their movement, they do not receive fair and equal treatment from governmental agencies, and they are sometimes forced to leave their homes, the organization said.
The HRW director said that "apartheid" is the correct term because, "The Israeli policy in the occupied areas is specifically targeted to place one group of people above another, while both population groups in the region are equal in size.
CIDI, a lobbying group for Israeli and Jewish issues in the Netherlands, did not immediately release a statement about the new interview, but has condemned HRW’s stance in the past. In May it said that many experts on the issue believe the HRW argument is “unfounded and one-sided, and does not do justice to the great complexity of the conflict.” When posters were put up across Rotterdam accusing Israel of apartheid, CIDI responded with its own campaign. “This accusation is easy to repeat over and over, but also easy to contradict and refute,” the organization said
Many countries have been afraid to speak out about the mistreatment of Palestinians due to the delicate political situation in the area, according to Shakir. It should be up to the Netherlands to take the first step, the HRW director said.
"The Netherlands already has an important symbolic position due to the presence of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The relationship between the Netherlands and Israel has been historically good, but there is also room to hold each other accountable within that friendship," Shakir told NU.nl.
Shakir said the Netherlands also does not have to wait for the European Union to make the first step by classifying the treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.
Former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, former Israeli ambassadors, and Cabinet members in France and Luxembourg have already accused Israel of implementing a system of apartheid there.