The US Presbyterian Church has voted to declare Israel to be an "apartheid state" and has set aside "Nakba Remembrance Day" within the church calendar. The decisions were taken at the church's 225th General Assembly.
"Israel's laws, policies and practices regarding the Palestinian people fulfil the international legal definition of apartheid," said the church's International Engagement Committee. The committee determined that there are two sets of laws, one for Israeli Jews and one for Palestinians, which are oppressive of the latter. Israeli settlements, for example, are allowed to steal land and water, while Palestinians are denied freedom of residence and movement.
The church added that Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories have "an inferior status" and are are unable to participate in the "political, social, economic and cultural life" of their country.
"This overture is pursued with the hope it will lead to a peaceful reconciliation for the people of Israel and Palestine similar to that which occurred in South Africa when apartheid was acknowledged internationally," the committee explained. "Christians spoke out in the 1950s against segregation in the United States and later against apartheid in South Africa. They must again raise their voices and condemn Israel's discrimination against Palestinians and give a name to the crime against humanity that this discrimination represents, the crime of apartheid."
The committee also called for an end to Israel's siege of Gaza and affirmed the "right of all people to live and worship peacefully" in Jerusalem.
The resolution designating 15 May every year as Palestinian Nakba Remembrance Day commemorates the tragedy of 750,000 Palestinians being expelled by Zionist militias and terror groups in the run up to and after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The resolution was passed unanimously, "for the purpose of lifting prayer for peace" and "giving solidarity for those suffering under occupation."
Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. Human rights abuses against Palestinians and breaches of international law are daily occurrences, including war crimes. Apartheid itself is akin to a crime against humanity.