UN body criticises Israel for racism, xenophobia and apartheid
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Israel
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Eightieth session, 13 February – 9 March 2012
[This is an extract from a lengthy report on racial discrimination in Israel (not included here) and the occupied territories (below). The Israeli government co-operated in providing information to the committee, which expressed concern about rising levels of xenophobia, racism and racial discrimination inside Israel It reserves the designation ‘apartheid’ to describe how the occupied territories function, and urges Israel to make substantive and legal changes. CERD is a body of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
‘The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Convention and then every two years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”. Website: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/’]
The Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Occupied Syrian Golan
24. The Committee is extremely concerned at the consequences of policies and practices which amount to de facto segregation, such as the implementation by the State party in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for Jewish communities grouped in illegal settlements on the one hand and Palestinian populations living in Palestinian towns and villages on the other hand. The Committee is particularly appalled at the hermetic character of the separation of two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources. Such separation is concretized by the implementation of a complex combination of movement restrictions consisting of the Wall, roadblocks, the obligation to use separate roads and a permit regime that only impacts the Palestinian population (Article 3 of the Convention).
The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Recommendation 19 (1995) concerning the prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid, and urges the State party to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and which violate the provisions of article 3 of the Convention.
25. The Committee is increasingly concerned at the State party’s discriminatory planning policy, whereby construction permits are rarely if ever granted to Palestinian and Bedouin communities and demolitions principally target property owned by Palestinians and Bedouins. The Committee is concerned at the adverse tendency of preferential treatment for the expansion of Israeli settlements, through the use of “state land” allocated for settlements, the provision of infrastructure such as roads and water systems, high approval rates for planning permits and the establishment of Special Planning Committees consisting of settlers for consultative decision-making processes. The Committee is greatly concerned at the State party’s policy of “demographic balance”, which has been a stated aim of official municipal planning documents, particularly in the city of Jerusalem (Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Convention).
In light of its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/ISR/CO/13, para. 35) and considering that the current Israeli planning and zoning policy in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, seriously breaches a range of fundamental rights under the Convention, the Committee urges the State party to reconsider the entire policy in order to guarantee Palestinian and Bedouin rights to property, access to land, access to housing and access to natural resources (especially water resources). The Committee also recommends that any planning and zoning policy be implemented in consultation with the populations directly affected by those measures. It calls on the State party to eliminate any policy of “demographic balance” from its Jerusalem Master Plan as well as from its planning and zoning policy in the rest of the West Bank.
26. Despite explanations provided by the delegation during the dialogue, the Committee remains concerned at the dramatic and disproportionate impact of the Israel Defense Forces’ blockade and military operations on Palestinians’ right to housing and basic services in the Gaza Strip. The Committee received worrying reports that only a minority of houses and civilian infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals and water plants, could be rebuilt, due to the State party’s blockade on the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip (Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Convention).
The State party should fully respect the norms of humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, rescind its blockade policy and urgently allow all construction materials necessary for rebuilding homes and civilian infrastructures into the Gaza Strip so as to ensure respect for Palestinians’ right to housing, education, health, water and sanitation in compliance with the Convention.
27. The Committee is extremely concerned at the existence of two sets of laws, for Palestinians on the one hand and Jewish settlers on the other hand who reside in the same territory, namely the West bank, including East Jerusalem, and are not subject to the same justice system (criminal as well as civil matters). The Committee is particularly concerned at worrying reports of an increase in the arrest and detention of children and of the undermining of their judicial guarantees, notably in relation to the competence of military courts to try Palestinian children, which is inconsistent with international law. The Committee expresses great concern at the State party’s maintenance of administrative detention for both Palestinian children and adults based on evidence that is kept secret for security reasons. It also expresses concern at the monetary and physical obstacles faced by Palestinians seeking compensation before Israeli tribunals for loss suffered, in particular as a consequence of the IDF Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip (Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the Convention).
Recalling its General Recommendation 31 (2005) on the prevention of racial discrimination in the administration and functioning of the criminal justice system, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure equal access to justice for all persons residing in territories under the State party’s effective control. The Committee urges the State party to end its current practice of administrative detention, which is discriminatory and constitutes arbitrary detention under international human rights law.
28. The Committee is concerned about the increase in racist violence and acts of vandalism on the part of Jewish settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory targeting non-Jews, including Muslims and Christians and their holy places, and about information according to which 90 per cent of Israeli police investigations into settler-related violence carried out between 2005 and 2010 were closed without prosecution. The Committee is particularly alarmed by reports of impunity of terrorist groups such as Price Tag, which reportedly enjoy political and legal support from certain sections of the Israeli political establishment. The Committee is also concerned about the impact of settler violence on the right of women and girls to access basic services such as the right to education (Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention).
While noting with interest the establishment of the ministerial team meant to address matters relating to settler violence, the Committee, recalling its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/ISR/CO/13, para. 37), urges the State party to ensure that all forms of violence and harassment are impartially investigated by the judiciary and that perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, irrespective of their national, ethnic or other origin.
29. The Committee remains concerned at the vulnerable situation of Syrian residents of the Occupied Syrian Golan and their unequal access to land, housing and basic services. The Committee is also gravely concerned at the continued impact of the Citizenship Law on family ties, which continue to be disrupted as a consequence of the territory’s illegal annexation in 1981 (Articles 2 and 5 of the Convention).
The State party should ensure equal access for all residents of Israeli-controlled territories to fundamental rights such as the right to land, housing, movement, marriage and choice of spouse. The Committee urges the State party to find a satisfactory solution to the issue of family separation that particularly affects Syrian residents of the Occupied Syrian Golan.
30. Bearing in mind the indivisibility of all human rights, the Committee encourages the State party to consider ratifying those international human rights treaties which it has not yet ratified, in particular treaties the provisions of which have a direct bearing on the subject of racial discrimination, such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990).
31. In light of its General Recommendation 33 (2009) on follow-up to the Durban Review Conference, the Committee recommends that the State party give effect to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted in September 2001 by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, taking into account the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva in April 2009, when implementing the Convention in its domestic legal order. The Committee takes note of Israel’s explanation for its refusal to acknowledge and abide by the Durban Declaration of the International Conference against Racism and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. However, taking into consideration the evident importance of that document for a large segment of humanity, the Committee strongly recommends that Israel re-examine its position and adopt adequate policies and plans to implement the Declaration.
32. The Committee recommends that the State party consult and expand its dialogue with organizations of civil society working in the area of human rights protection, in particular in combating racial discrimination in Israel proper and the territories under its effective control, in connection with the preparation of the next periodic report.
33. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.
34. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111. In this connection, the Committee cites General Assembly resolutions 61/148, 63/243 and 65/200, in which the Assembly strongly urged States parties to accelerate their domestic ratification procedures with regard to the amendment to the Convention concerning the financing of the Committee and to notify the Secretary-General expeditiously in writing of their agreement to the amendment.
35. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available and accessible to the public at the time of their submission, and that the observations of the Committee with respect to these reports be similarly publicized in the official and other commonly used languages, as appropriate.
36. In accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention and rule 65 of its amended rules of procedure, the Committee requests the State party to provide information, within one year of the adoption of the present conclusions, on its follow-up to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 16, 18 and 30 above.
37. The Committee also wishes to draw the attention of the State party to the particular importance of recommendations 11, 12, 21, 26 and 29 and request the State party to provide detailed information in its next periodic report on concrete measures taken to implement these recommendations.
38. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic reports in a single document, due on 2 February 2016, taking into account the guidelines for the CERD-specific document adopted by the Committee during its seventy-first session (CERD/C/2007/1), and that it address all points raised in the present concluding observations. The Committee also urges the State party to observe the page limit of 40 pages for treaty-specific reports and 60-80 pages for the common core document (see harmonized guidelines for reporting contained in document HRI/GEN.2/Rev.6, para. 19).