Findings of the 2011 Russell Tribunal on Palestine

These are the findings of the 2011 Cape Town Sessions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP). This “citizen-based Tribunal of conscience” was founded as a reaction to the failure to implement the ICJ Wall-opinion and UN General Assembly resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It should be noted that the RToP’s findings stricto sensu do not have any formal legal standing. The Israeli authorities have chosen not to partake in the proceedings.

The questions submitted to the RToP were:

  • Do Israel’s practices against the Palestinian People amount to a breach of the international legal prohibition of apartheid? (discussed in Chapter V part A)

The RToP finds that the Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as well as the Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject to a regime of apartheid, due to systematic, widespread and institutionalised “inhuman acts” by the Israeli authorities. Such actions constitute crimes against humanity under the 1973 Apartheid Convention, the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – Israel is party to neither – and, arguably, customary international law.

  • Do Israel’s practices against the Palestinian People constitute persecution as a crime against humanity? (Discussed in Chapter V part B)

The RToP qualifies certain Israeli practices as “persecution”, a crime against humanity under the Statute of the ICC. Especially the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the targeting of civilians during military operations and the destruction of Palestinian property are to be considered acts of persecution, according to the RToP.

  • In the event of affirmative findings as to the previous questions, what legal consequences and obligations arise for Israel and third states? (Discussed in Chapter VI)

The RToP, having reached an affirmative answer to the first two questions, finds the examined international wrongful acts to be attributable to the state of Israel, and states that full reparations should be made to the victims. Third states and international organisations, the RToP concludes, bear the responsibility to ensure that Israel abides by international law, and to cooperate and end the illegal situation of apartheid and persecution committed by Israel.