In an article published in the Irish newspaper The Journal, Michael Ben-Yair stressed that he agreed with a recent report by an international rights group, which said Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Ben-Yair, who was also an acting Supreme Court of Israel judge, said he had spent much of his career analyzing the legal questions concerning Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian lands.
Israeli courts, he added, uphold “discriminatory laws” to expel Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds, which contributes to the “ongoing domination over these territories.”
“It is the Israeli ministerial cabinet for settlements that approves every illegal settlement in the occupied territories. It was me, in my role as the attorney general who approved the expropriation of private Palestinian land in order to build infrastructure such as roads that have entrenched settlement expansion,” he said.
“It is with great sadness that I must also conclude that Israel has sunk to such political and moral depths that it is now an apartheid regime.”
Ben-Yair also warned that millions of Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are being permanently deprived of their civil and political rights, noting that the “status quo on the ground is a moral abomination.”
“The delay by the international community in taking meaningful steps to hold Israel accountable for the apartheid regime it is perpetuating is unacceptable,” he emphasized.
Earlier this month, an international rights group said in its 280-page report that Israel is enforcing a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians.
It listed a range of Israeli abuses, including extensive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, administrative detention and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians.
“Israel’s system of institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid, and a serious violation of Israel’s human rights obligations,” read the report, which was based upon research conducted from 2017 to 2021.
“The segregation is conducted in a systematic and highly institutionalized manner through laws, policies and practices, all of which are intended to prevent Palestinians from claiming and enjoying equal rights with Jewish Israelis.”
Last year, Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem, said in a report Israel is not a democracy but an “apartheid regime” that systematically oppresses the Palestinians via military occupation and racist laws.
The Tel Aviv regime, it asserted, is using “laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another.”
Israel occupied the West Bank and East al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.