A report published by Amnesty on Tuesday amplified previous ones released by Palestinian rights groups on Israel’s system of apartheid in absence of accountability.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, has once again ruled out the possibility of the Gulf state normalising with Israel in the “absence of a real commitment to a two-state solution”.
The statements were made in an interview with Axios at the Qatar embassy in Washington, during the Gulf state’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the country, where he met with US President Joe Biden.
Sheikh Mohammed told the American outlet that his country had previously maintained ties with Tel Aviv “when there were prospects for peace” with the Palestinians, but it “lost hope” following the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in 2008.
Dubbed “Operation Cast Lead”, the illegal occupation killed up to 1,436 Palestinians including 410 children during the brutal military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, which lasted for three weeks.
The Qatari diplomat stated that the country’s engagement with Israel is to provide much-needed assistance to Palestinians and that it will not be signing the Abraham Accords “in the absence of a real commitment to a two-state solution”.
A wave of normalisation was seen in the region in 2020, when the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, under which they normalised ties with the Zionist state. Sudan shortly followed suit in 2021.
Qatar has long expressed its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted in 2002 by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), stating that member countries shall refrain from normalising with Israel until it fully withdraws from lands occupied in 1967.
According to a 2020 survey by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha, nearly 90% of the people surveyed in Qatar and Kuwait rejected the recognition of Israel.
Overall, 88% of Arabs said they would not support normalisation with the occupying state, reflecting a clear discord between the general public and some of the governments in the region.
An apartheid state
A report published by Amnesty International on Tuesday further amplified previous reports by Palestinian rights groups on Israel’s apartheid crimes against the native population, in the absence of accountability mechanisms within the global community.
“While it’s encouraging to see Amnesty International join organisations B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch in [the] condemnation of Israeli Apartheid, it’s vital to remember that Palestinians, Palestinian human rights orgs Adalah, Al Haq & others have been saying this all along,” said Palestinian-Canadian lawyer, Yafa Jarrar.
The report was rejected by both Israel and its ally, the US, denying that the Zionist entity’s actions constitute as apartheid.
“Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity,” said Amnesty.
The report details Israel’s flagrant human rights abuses against Palestinians, from ongoing displacement to make way for Jewish settlers, imposing over 65 discriminatory laws, and denial of the right to return for those who were made refugees during the establishment of Israel.
The leading rights group called on the settler-colonial state to end the “crime of apartheid, by dismantling measures of fragmentation, segregation, discrimination, and deprivation, currently in place against the Palestinian population”.
According to Amnesty, more than 6 million Palestinians remain refugees 73 years on, most of whom live in camps in neighbouring countries.
Under the illegal occupation, Palestinian movement is heavily restricted with the presence of barriers and multiple checkpoints, with the people denied the right to build any structures, including tents, without a permit.
Given the oppressive practices committed by Israel, Palestinians struggle to obtain those permits.
Israel has also been preventing families from uniting by imposing a policy in 2002 that prohibits those from the West Bank and Gaza to move across the country.
“For example, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza cannot gain legal status in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem through marriage, denying their rights to family unification,” said Amnesty.
Ongoing Gaza siege
The report further tapped into the ongoing illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, where more than two million Palestinians have been subjected to an embargo for the past 14 years.
“There are severe shortages of housing, drinking water, electricity, essential medicines and medical care, food, educational equipment and building materials. In 2020, Gaza had the world’s highest unemployment rate,” said the rights group.
Palestinians in Gaza led the Great March of Return on 30 March, 2018, where they held mass demonstrations that saw a violent response from Israeli forces, which had killed 214 civilians by the end of 2019.
Israeli forces also injured more than 8,000 people, 156 of which had to have their limbs amputated as 1,200 were in need of long-term therapy and rehabilitation. The lives of those with lasting injuries also struggle to get proper treatment due to the siege.
“The blockade prevents Palestinians from accessing adequate healthcare, in particular life-saving and other emergency medical treatment only available outside Gaza. The Israeli authorities often delay these permits and sometimes fail to provide them at all,” Amnesty reported.
Despite the report’s findings and its ability to bring the illegal occupation of Palestine to the world’s attention once again, it was slammed on social media for a tweet over its decision to not take a stance with regards to the occupation.
“Does Amnesty oppose Israel’s military occupation of Palestine? Amnesty hasn’t taken a position on occupation. Our focus has been on the Israeli government’s obligations, as the occupying power, under international law, but Amnesty has taken no position on the occupation itself,” read the tweet.
In a tweet, AJ+ host, Sana Saeed said: “Amnesty positions itself as a human rights organisation but refuses to ‘take a position’ on something that is objectively A Bad Human Rights Situation. This is not cowardice but a gross calculus.”