What is apartheid? UN rapporteur claps back at journalist over Gaza war

What is apartheid? UN rapporteur claps back at journalist over Gaza war
3 min read
15 November, 2023
UN rapporteur Francesca Albanese offered a strong response to a journalist who tried to criticise her for remarks on "Jewish-Israeli domination" of the Palestinian territories
Francesca Albanese addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday in Australia [Getty]

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, has hit back at a Guardian journalist who tried to criticise her for claiming that Israel was trying to perpetuate "Jewish-Israeli domination" in the Palestinian territories. in a clip that has gone viral on social media.

During a press conference at the National Press Club in  Australia’s city of Canberra, Albanese was confronted by a journalist from The Guardian who said he was concerned about Albanese’s use of the phrase ‘Jewish-Israeli domination’ to describe the situation in the Palestinian territories and Israel in an earlier statement.

Daniel Hurst asked whether the UN rapporteur's framing was “helpful in the current climate”, appearing to suggest that Albanese’s remarks were promoting a "trope" and contained an undertone of antisemitism.

The UN rapporteur responded by saying that what she was not using a trope, adding that Israel was an “apartheid regime” with all the associated characteristics.

“The Apartheid Convention- talks about racial domination- this is what I’m talking about,” Albanese said. 

“It might be a trope in the way that you interpret it but I’m using ‘domination’ in a strictly legal sense.” 

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defined what apartheid was and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1973. 

The convention stated that apartheid consists of “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”.

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Amnesty International released a detailed report in 2022 slamming Israel for enforcing an 'apartheid' system on Palestinians. 

It documented unlawful killings, land and property confiscation, and denial of nationality and citizenship as evidence of Israel's desire to maintain Jewish hegemony both within Israel's 1948 borders and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.   

Albanese said in her Canberra press conference that Israel cannotclaim the ‘right of self-defence' under international law as Gaza is a territory that it occupies.  

"Individual member states, especially in the West – and Australia is no exception – are on the margins, muttering inaudible words of condemnation … or staying silent in fear of restraining Israel's self-proclaimed right to self-defence – whatever it means,” the human rights lawyer said. 

Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the killing of around 1,200 Israeli hostages, while around 240 others were taken hostage by the Palestinian militant group. 

In Gaza, more than 11,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in a fierce and indiscriminate Israeli bombing campaign and ground invasion.