President Santokhi, Don’t Establish an Embassy in Jerusalem
President Santokhi, Don’t Establish an Embassy in Jerusalem
Why this petition matters
To: President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname
The Proposed Establishment by Suriname of an Embassy in Jerusalem Blatantly Contradicts Jerusalem’s Internationally Protected Status, Violates United Nations Resolutions and Disregards Israel’s Colonial and Apartheid Regime
1 June 2022
Dear President Santokhi,
On Monday, 30 May 2022, it was announced that the country of Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America, intended to upgrade its diplomatic representation in Israel (currently represented through a consulate in Tel Aviv) and to establish an embassy in Jerusalem.
As scholars and practitioners of international law, post-colonial studies and other areas, we strongly condemn, in no uncertain terms, the proposed establishment of an Embassy by the Republic of Suriname in Jerusalem.
As explained below, establishing an embassy in Jerusalem would amount to multiple violations of international law and serve as an endorsement, both of Israel’s conduct and implementation of a regime of apartheid—a crime against humanity—and longstanding practice of settler-colonialism against the Palestinians.
Violations of International Law
Establishing an embassy in Jerusalem demonstrates a flagrant disregard for international law, including numerous United Nations (UN) resolutions stating that any unilateral changes to the status of Jerusalem by Israel are to be regarded as null and void. More specifically, in December 2017, the UN General Assembly affirmed that any decisions and actions which purport to alter the character, status or demographic composition of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void, and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council; in this regard, the General Assembly called upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 (1980). Moreover, the UN has never recognized Israel’s sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem. Under UN Security Council Resolution 478 expressly requires “those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City”.
None of the changes to the status of Jerusalem, including the relocation of foreign embassies there, are the outcome of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Therefore, third States are prohibited from recognizing Israel’s alteration of the status of Jerusalem, including Israel’s assertion of sovereignty there, which amounts to an unlawful annexation of territory, including occupied territory, in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations as well as customary international law with respect to the self-determination of the Palestinian peoples.
In short, the majority stance of the international community regarding the status of Jerusalem is clear: its status cannot be altered through unilateral changes, and, therefore, it is not the appropriate location for foreign diplomatic missions.
Apartheid: A Crime Against Humanity
It is furthermore important to pay heed to the concerns of Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations as well as United Nations experts and scholars, who have concluded that Israel pursues a regime of apartheid. Apartheid is a crime against humanity, both according to the International Convention of the Crime of Apartheid and as a listed crime in the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are treated as second class citizens, deprived of numerous rights, including language rights, religious and marriage rights that are accorded to Jewish-Israeli citizens. More well known, perhaps, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank experience daily discrimination and humiliations through a network of hundreds of checkpoints and road blocks, settler violence and military repression, living alongside Israeli citizens in illegally-constructed settlements that frequently serve as military bases. Moreover, Palestinians in the occupied territory of Gaza effectively live in an open-air prison, experiencing crippling poverty and a deep humanitarian crisis as a result of Israel’s imposition of a blockade since 2007, while just a few kilometres away, Israelis experience a high standard of living and freedom of movement. To complete this picture of discrimination, Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their rights as stipulated in UN General Assembly 194.
Amnesty International is the latest organization to conclude that Israel pursues a regime of apartheid against the Palestinians. However reports have also been issued by countless others, including Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq, Human Rights Watch, Israeli human rights organization B’tselem and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem).
In fact, describing Israel’s policies against Palestinians as an “apartheid” regime, while legally-correct, does not go far enough to explain its comprehensive, decades-long domination and oppression of Palestinians.
Just as Suriname experienced as a former Dutch colony from 1667, until gaining independence in 1975, the conduct of Israel’s government and military since 1948 has deprived millions of Palestinians and their descendants of their land and livelihoods through a regime of settler-colonialism. This regime has violated the self-determination of the Palestinian peoples as held by the International Court of Justice in 2004 (Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory). This settler-colonial regime that confiscated their land has made Palestinians socially and economically dependent on the State of Israel, which extracts Palestinian resources while depriving Palestinians of basic services.
In the words of Israeli political sociologist Ronit Lentin, the State of Israel is not only a “state of exception”, but also “a racial state” and a “settler colony”.
President Santokhi, it is not too late to do the right thing, to stand on the right side of history as indeed Suriname did during the late 1980s, alongside other nations in the United Nations General Assembly, in solidarity with South Africans who were fighting South African apartheid and waging a struggle for liberation in their country.
Accordingly, we urgently request that you do not follow-through with the proposed establishment of an embassy in the heavily contested city of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians regard as their capital.
 See e.g., UN Security Council Resolution 478, S/RES/478 (20 Aug 1980). For an example of general restrictions on the government of Jerusalem, see UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (Part II), A/RES/181(II) (29 Nov 1947).
 UN General Assembly Resolution ES-10/19, A/RES/ES-10/19 (21 Dec 2017).
 UN Security Council Resolution 478, S/RES/478 (20 Aug 1980), ¶ 5.
 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid G.A. res. 3068 (XXVIII)), 28 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 30) at 75, U.N. Doc. A/9030 (1974), 1015 U.N.T.S. 243, entered into force July 18, 1976
 Adalah, Discriminatory Laws Database, released on 25 September 2017, available at: https://www.adalah.org/en/law/index
 B’tselem, ‘The Gaza Strip’, 2022 (updated): https://www.btselem.org/topic/gaza_strip and Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Publications, 2022 (updated): https://pchrgaza.org/en/category/other-publications/
 Amnesty International 2022, ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity’, London, 1 February 2022. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/02/israels-apartheid-against-palestinians-a-cruel-system-of-domination-and-a-crime-against-humanity/
 Al-Haq 2021, Highlights Israel’s Apartheid Regime and Calls for Accountability at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, Ramallah: Al Haq, 12 Apr 2021 https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/18174.html
 Human Rights Watch 2021, A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution
 B’tselem 2021, A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid, 12 January 2021. https://www.btselem.org/apartheid
 Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in OPT: Israel Has Imposed Upon Palestine an Apartheid Reality in a Post-apartheid World – Press Release, 25 March 2022. https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/special-rapporteur-situation-human-rights-occupied-palestinian-territories
 Lana Tatour, ‘Why calling Israel an apartheid state is not enough’ Middle East Eye, 18 January 2021. https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/why-calling-israel-apartheid-state-not-enough
 International Court of Justice, Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Decided on 9 July 2004, available at: https://www.icj-cij.org/en/case/131
 Ronit Lentin, ‘Race and Surveillance in the Settler Colony: the Case of Israeli Rule over Palestine’, Palgrave Communications 3 DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2017.56 https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms201756
 UN General Assembly, Policies of apartheid of the Government of South Africa: International solidarity with the liberation struggle in South Africa, 20 November 1987, A/RES/42/23, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f39d4.html [accessed 31 May 2022]