This legal opinion examines the question of how the practices and policies employed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have, as a whole, impacted the legal status of the Israeli occupation.
Over the course of 56 years of Israeli occupation, Israeli authorities and officials – both military and civilian – that played a role in policy design and implementation in the Palestinian territories have transformed them beyond recognition. This transformation was effected through a set of policies and practices – the most important and farthest-reaching of which are: demographic engineering of the occupied territory, physical and legal separation according to nationality and the application of Israeli sovereignty in the occupied territory.
The opinion analyzes Israel’s policy in the OPT, reaching the conclusion that Israel aspires to make its control of the West Bank permanent. The analysis further indicates that Israel has abused the legal framework that allows it to hold onto these territories and administrate them, that is, the international laws of occupation, in order to effect a process of de facto and de jure annexation of the OPT, exploit its natural resources other than for the benefit of the occupied population and create a large community of citizens of the occupying power inside the OPT.
Additionally, over the years, Israel’s military rule in the Palestinian territories has used the tools given to it by the laws of occupation to establish an apparatus that deliberately works against the local population and dedicates itself to its dispossession in order to advance the interests of the Jewish population that took over large parts of the West Bank on behalf of the State of Israel. The military rule’s abdication of its responsibility towards the interests of the Palestinians as the protected persons leads to the inevitable conclusion that the military occupation of the West Bank has transformed into illegal colonial rule.
Throughout the 56 years of occupation, Israel pursued a policy aimed at demographically altering the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and physically and legally separating between the protected Palestinian civilians and Jewish-Israeli settlers, all of this while belligerently and unilaterally asserting Israeli sovereignty over the territory. The cumulative effect of these policies is the perpetuation of Israeli control and the subversion of its temporary nature.
Additionally, the nature of the regime in the West Bank as described above, which is a “regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group,” and many actions taken by the Israeli authorities constituting “inhumane acts,” according to its meaning in international criminal law and taken with the aim of maintaining the aforementioned regime, lead to the conclusion that the crime of apartheid is being committed in the West Bank.
The opinion asserts that the fact that successive Israeli governments and authorities have abused the powers granted to them by the laws of occupation in order to violate the rights of the protected persons and exploit the occupied territory, attaching it to sovereign Israel with the tentacles of annexation renders the Israeli occupation of the West Bank an illegal occupation, i.e., control the occupier has an obligation to end immediately, and which the international community must take steps to immediately terminate.