Israeli education minister bans rights groups from schools after B'Tselem's damning 'Israeli apartheid' report
Education Minister Yoav Gallant announced the move after rights group B’Tselem described Israel as a "non-democratic" and "apartheid regime”.
The minister did not specify the group by name but said authorities would ban members of groups that “call Israel false derogatory names” from entering schools, Time of Israel reported.
Entry should be prohibited to “groups that act in contradiction with the education system’s goals, including calling Israel false derogatory names, opposing Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, discouraging meaningful service in the Israel Defence Forces, or acting to harm or humiliate IDF soldiers during or after their service,” he said in a letter circulated to his office’s director and school district managers across the country.
Last week, the leading Israeli human rights group, which monitors rights abuses, made a bold announcement that Israel enforces an apartheid system "from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”.
The group said "one organising principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group - Jews - over another - Palestinians".
The description of Israel as an "apartheid state" has been repeatedly made by Palestinian and international activists in the past, but the report by B'tselem - viewed as a more mainstream Israeli organisation - represents a rare Israeli admission of these claims.
Most damaging for the Israeli government's reputation is B'tselem's statement that it is not just Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are subjected to an apartheid system, but also Palestinian citizens of Israel.
The latter claim is a sensitive one for Israel, which prides itself on being the "Middle East's only democracy" - a title rejected by many activist groups who say that Palestinian citizens of Israel have far fewer rights than Jewish ones.
The 2018 "Jewish Nation State Law" was also used by critics as further evidence the Israeli government was undermining the rights and agency of Palestinian citizens.
"Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it," B'Tselem, executive director, Hagai El-Ad told The Guardian.
The B'Tselem report stated that Jewish citizens have full rights within Israel and areas under its control. The rights of Palestinians are divided into four categories with even the highest of these below those Jewish-Israelis.
"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."
Israel has been criticised for its illegal annexation of territories in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians suffer a lost list of abuses, according to human rights groups.