“Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Sunday. The 166-page report identifies practices which HRW calls “discriminatory,” claiming, “they have no legitimate security or other justification.”

The group calls on Israel to abide by its international legal obligation to withdraw the settlements and to end the violations of Palestinians’ rights and on donor countries, particularly the United states and the European Union, to avoid contributing to violations of international law caused by the settlements.”

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Responding Sunday morning, NGO Monitor that the report "strips away the context of Arab terror and substitutes inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations, falsely turning a political conflict into one of racial hostility by using the "separate but unequal" language from the American civil rights movement."

"Of even greater concern," NGO Monitor continued in a statement, "HRW in this report endorses boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), disguised as opposition to settlements, but in reality seeking the destruction of Israel. This is further proof of HRW founder Robert Bernstein's conclusion that the organization has turned Israel into a pariah state."

"We also note that the timing of this report coincides with the Arab League campaign to undermine the peace process by exploiting UN framework," the statement added.

Carroll Bogert, deputy executive director for external relations at Human Rights Watch, said that “Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits."

“While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp – not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes," she added.

Human Rights Watch’s report looked at both Area C and east Jerusalem and found that “The two-tier system in effect in both areas provides generous financial benefits and infrastructure support to promote life in Jewish settlements, while deliberately withholding basic services, punishing growth, and imposing harsh conditions on Palestinian communities.”

“Such different treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin that is not narrowly tailored to legitimate goals violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law,” reads the report.

“While Israeli policy makers are fighting for the ‘natural growth’ of their illegal settlements, they’re strangling historic Palestinian communities, forbidding families from expanding their homes, and making life unlivable,” Bogert said. “The policies surrounding Israel’s settlements are an affront to equality and a major obstacle to ordinary Palestinian life.”

The report also describes cases in which businesses have contributed to or benefited directly from discrimination against Palestinians, “for example through commercial activities on lands that were unlawfully confiscated from Palestinians without compensation for the benefit of settlers. These businesses also benefit from Israeli governmental subsidies, tax abatements, and discriminatory access to infrastructure, permits, and export channels,” reads the report. Human Rights Watch called on businesses to investigate, prevent and mitigate such violations, including ending any operations that cannot be separated from discriminatory Israeli practices.

“Discrimination of the kind practiced daily in the West Bank should be beyond the pale for anyone,” Bogert said. “Foreign governments and businesses at risk of being tainted by Israel’s unlawful practices should identify and end policies and actions that support them.”

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report

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