GENEVA - A report commissioned by the United Nations suggests that Palestinian terrorism is the "inevitable consequence" of Israeli occupation and laws that resemble South African apartheid - a claim Israel rejected Tuesday as enflaming hatred between Jews and Palestinians.
The report by John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the UN Human Rights Council, will be presented next month, but it has been posted on the body's website.
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In it, Dugard, a South African lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in the 1980s, says "common sense ... Dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by al-Qaeda, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation."
While Palestinian terrorist acts are to be deplored, "they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation," writes Dugard, whose 25-page report accuses the Jewish state of acts and policies consistent with all three.
He cited checkpoints and roadblocks restricting Palestinian movement to house demolitions and what he terms the "Judaization" of Jerusalem.
'Professor Dugard not objective'
As long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism, he argues.
"Acts of terror against military occupation must be seen in historical context," Dugard says. "This is why every effort should be made to bring the occupation to a speedy end. Until this is done, peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue."
Israel's UN Ambassador in Geneva slammed Dugard's analysis.
"The common link between al-Qaeda and the Palestinian terrorists is that both intentionally target civilians with the mere purpose to kill," Itzhak Levanon said. "The fact that Professor Dugard is ignoring this essential fact, demonstrates his inability to use objectivity in his assessment.
"Professor Dugard will better serve the cause of peace by ceasing to enflame the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, who have embarked on serious talks to solve this contentious situation."
Dugard was appointed in 2001 as an unpaid expert by the now-defunct UN Human Rights Commission to investigate only violations by the Israeli side, prompting Israel and the US to dismiss his reports as one-sided. Israel refused to allow him to conduct a UN-mandated fact-finding mission on its Gaza offensive in 2006.
The report will be presented next month at the 47-nation rights council's first regular session of the year. The new body has been widely criticized - even by its founder, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - for spending most of its time criticizing one government, Israel's, over alleged abuses.