Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A human rights group said in a new analysis Tuesday that the Israeli government is not a parliamentary democracy, but rather practices an apartheid system that suppresses minority groups like Palestinians.
B'Tselem, which documents human rights abuses in Israel, argues in its report that the Israeli government is responsible for laws and practices designed to establish Jewish supremacy and sponsors violence against Palestinians.
It's the first time in its 32-year-history that B'Tselem has labeled Israel an "apartheid state."
The report, titled "This is Apartheid," criticizes Israel for governing Jewish and Palestinian territories differently.
"The Israeli regime has divided the area into several units that it defines and governs differently, according Palestinians different rights in each," it states. "This division is relevant to Palestinians only.
"The geographic space, which is contiguous for Jews, is a fragmented mosaic for Palestinians."
"This paper analyzes how the Israeli regime works to advance its goals in the entire area under its control," the report added.
"This document presents the principles that guide the regime, demonstrates how it implements them and points to the conclusion that emerges from all of this as to how the regime should be defined and what that means for human rights."
The report also accuses Israel of undermining Palestinians in occupied territories who wish to continue living in their native lands.
"Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it," B'Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said. "It is one regime between the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid."
El-Ad added that connecting Israel with apartheid grew in part because of its 2018 Nation State Law, which sought to solidify Israel's identity as an ethnic national Jewish state that provides a homeland for Jewish people.
Critics, however, say the law has helped institutionalize discrimination against minority populations.
Eugene Kontorovich, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum's International Law Department, said the apartheid claim is similar to an antisemitic "blood libel."
"Apartheid is an extraordinary accusation because there is an international crime called the crime of apartheid and an international treaty against the crime of apartheid," he told The Jerusalem Post.
Kontorovich noted that no nation, other than South Africa, has ever been labeled by the international community as an apartheid state.