Over the weekend the Russell Tribunal has been convening in Cape Town, South Africa, to assess what parallels (if any) may exist between the former apartheid regime there and Israel/Palestine. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Michael Mansfield QC were on the jury, and in a jointly-written article for the Guardian before the Tribunal met they said this:
'We have visited Israel/Palestine on a number of occasions and every time have been struck by the similarities with the South African apartheid regime (years ago). The separate roads and areas for Palestinians, the humiliation at roadblocks and checkpoints, the evictions and house demolitions. Parts of East Jerusalem resemble what was District Six in Cape Town. It is a cause for abiding sadness and anguish. It revolves around the way in which the arrogance of power brings about a desensitisation. Once this has occurred it permits atrocious acts and attitudes to be visited on those over whom power and control are exercised.'
The writers stress however that the two situations are not strictly identical, only that there appear to be parallels. The Tribunal's objective is to assess all the facts at their disposal and then conclude which norms of international law may apply.
(I believe attention will be drawn to the Rome Statute 2002 article 7 (1) which states: "inhumane acts carried out in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.")