Israeli authorities impose “systematic legal discrimination” on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, an internal European Union (EU) report has acknowledged.
The confidential diplomats’ report, published last July, was seen by EUobserver.
The document, put together by EU ambassadors in Jerusalem and Ramallah, is intended to “serve as input for Brussels and [EU] capitals” in forming Middle East policy.
According to the report, the 2.7 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank “face systematic legal discrimination” under Israel’s “quasi-permanent occupation”.
The 400,000 Israeli settlers, meanwhile, “act largely with impunity” even if they are caught “torching [Palestinian] fields and olive groves, and damaging crops and property” or “hurling Molotov cocktails or using live fire” against Palestinians.
In addition, the EU document noted, Israeli soldiers caught “using disproportionate force” against Palestinians also “go unpunished in almost all cases”.
The EU document claims that Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land has turned the West Bank into “an archipelago” of Palestinian “islands”.
Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, told EUobserver: “The West Bank legal regime is a form of institutionalised racial segregation. A simpler description would be apartheid.”