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'The author is known for his disturbing anti-Israel views'

UN Human Rights Council report accuses Israel of apartheid

Foreign Ministry says Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk is biased, recycles ‘baseless and outrageous libels’; study comes weeks after Amnesty makes similar claims

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Maryam Banat, 67, mother of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat, holds a poster with his picture at a rally protesting his death at the hands of PA security forces, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Maryam Banat, 67, mother of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat, holds a poster with his picture at a rally protesting his death at the hands of PA security forces, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk accused Israel of apartheid in a report submitted Tuesday to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“With the eyes of the international community wide open, Israel has imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world,” wrote Lynk, whose full title is “Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

Lynk is slated to formally release his report on Thursday ahead of a debate on Agenda Item 7, the permanent HRC item reserved for Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians and other Arabs.

This is Lynk’s final report in his six-year term.

“The political system of entrenched rule in the occupied Palestinian territory which endows one racial-national-ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits and privileges while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule… satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid,” wrote Lynk.

The Canadian academic argued Israel is pursuing a strategy of “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian territory into separate areas of population control, with Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem physically divided from one another.”

Michael Lynk briefs reporters at UN headquarters in New York on October 26, 2017. (Kim Haughton/UN)

Israel uses Gaza, Lynk claimed, for the “indefinite warehousing of an unwanted population of two million Palestinians.”

The issuing of thousands of work permits for Palestinian laborers in the West Bank and Gaza to work in Israel amounts to the “exploitation of labor of a racial group,” according to the report.

Lynk also posited that “torture continues to be used in practice by Israel against Palestinians in detention.”

The report, the main body of which does not mention terrorist groups Hamas or Islamic Jihad, says Israel “must cooperate in good faith with the Palestinian leadership to completely end the occupation and realize a genuine two-state solution.”

Israel and Jewish organizations blasted Lynk as hostile to Israel and the report as baseless.

A gunman attends the funeral of three Palestinian militants, in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 8, 2022. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

“The author of this report is well known for his blatant and disturbing anti-Israel views,” wrote Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva in a statement. “This report is no different.”

The statement added that no report on Israel can be taken seriously “if the security challenges and threats faced daily by all Israelis — including the 20% non-Jewish minority — is not considered.”

“This report recycles baseless and outrageous libels previously published by NGOs that share the same goal as the author of this report: to delegitimize and criminalize the State of Israel for what it is: the nation-state of the Jewish People, with equal rights for all its citizens, irrespective of religion, race or sex,” said Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva.

Arsen Ostrovsky, Chair and CEO of the International Legal Forum, called Lynk’s report “the latest in a litany of one-sided, baseless reports, vilifying Israel and engaging in a full-scale lawfare assault on Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state.”

Palestinian protesters throw back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest near the West Bank city of Nablus, June 28, 2019 (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

“The UNHRC Rapporteur position for the Palestinians has a one-sided mandate where active demonization of Israel and promoting BDS is essentially a requirement for the job,” said Anne Herzberg of NGO Monitor, which tracks anti-Israel nonprofits. “Like his other reports, he has promoted the anti-Israel buzzword du jour — this time, apartheid. And like all his other reports, he provides a highly tendentious interpretation of international law, grossly misrepresents the facts and employs antisemitic tropes.”

Meanwhile, human rights organizations that have harshly criticized Israel in similar terms to Lynk’s report praised his findings.

“The Special Rapporteur’s findings are an important and timely addition to the growing international consensus that Israeli authorities are committing apartheid against the Palestinian people,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “The report details how Israel has established a system of racially motivated oppression against Palestinians, explicitly designed to maintain Jewish Israeli domination, and maintained through the commission of grave human rights violations.”

Palestinian workers from the West Bank city of Hebron carry personal belongings as they cross into Israel through a hole in a security fence near the West Bank city of Hebron, January 31, 2021. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

In February, Amnesty International released its own report accusing Israel of apartheid.

Israel called that report “false, biased and antisemitic,” and accused the organization of endangering the safety of Jews around the world.

“Come on, this is absurd,” US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted in response to the report.

In January, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that Israel will face intense campaigns to label it an apartheid state in 2022.

“We think that in the coming year, there will be debate that is unprecedented in its venom and in its radioactivity around the words ‘Israel as an apartheid state,’” Lapid said during a Zoom briefing with Israeli journalists.

“In 2022, it will be a tangible threat.”

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