Concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning Israel
Below are the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concerning Israel, which operates under the auspices of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
This report was compiled by Patricia Deane. The full report can be read online here. See also the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ analysis here.
The Committee, responding to Israel’s arguments about “self-defence” and “security”, warns that any security measures taken should be proportionate and should not discriminate against Palestinians in “Israel proper” and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) or against other minorities.
Settlements in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. Actions that change the demographic composition of the OPT and the Golan Heights violate human rights and international humanitarian law.
Very few: progress has been made in addressing inequality in the areas of employment and education in “Israel proper”. Legislation against violence in sport and to promote the representation of Ethiopians in the civil service, and action to improve the economic situation of the “Arab, Druze and Circassian” sectors are welcomed.
Concerns and recommendations
This is divided into two sections: the first, entitled “General situation” (paras. 10 to 23), focuses on “Israel proper” and the second deals with the OPT and the Golan Heights.
I. General situation
The report contained no information about the West Bank and Gaza. The Convention is applicable to all territories under the State party’s effective control, as confirmed, inter alia, by the International Court of Justice [in the Wall case]. The Committee strongly urges Israel to apply the Convention to all civilians under its effective control without discrimination.
There are two systems of education and two separate categories of municipality: Jewish municipalities and the so-called “municipalities of the minorities”. The Admission Committees Law (2011) gives committees discretion to reject applicants deemed to be “unsuitable to the social life of the community”. The Committee urges Israel to eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
The Committee requests statistical data on the “ethnic plurality of the Jewish population” of Israel.
The prohibition of racial discrimination and the principle of equality should be included in the Basic Law [the Constitution] and a definition of racial discrimination should be included in Israeli legislation. Existing legislation should be amended so that the exclusive role of the Attorney General in authorizing the prosecution of offences of incitement to racism is abolished. The definition of racism should be expanded to include incitement on account of ethnic origin, country of origin and religious affiliation.
The Committee notes with concern the enactment of the 2009 Israel Land Administration Law, the 2010 Amendment to the Land (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Ordinance and the 2010 Amendment to the Negev Development Authority Law. It strongly recommends that Israel ensure equal access to land and property and abrogate or rescind any legislation that does not comply with the principle of non-discrimination.
The Committee notes with concern the adoption of laws and the consideration of bills that would make social and economic benefits dependent on completion of military service, and regrets the adoption of the 2009 Special Amendment No. 6 to the Regional Councils Law, which could considerably restrict the political participation of non-Jewish minorities. All such discriminatory laws and bills should be abrogated or rescinded.
Israel should consider establishing a national mechanism for redress of racial discrimination.
The Committee urges Israel to revoke the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary provision), which prevents family reunification between Israeli citizens and OPT residents, and severely affects the right to marriage and choice of spouse.
The Committee expresses concern about the socio-economic gap between Jewish and non-Jewish minorities due to compartmentalization. It strongly recommends that Israel ensure equal enjoyment of economic and social rights, particularly the right to work and education. Israel should also redouble its efforts to achieve equality in women’s access to all rights enshrined in the Convention.
The Committee calls on Israel to withdraw the 2012 discriminatory proposed Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlements in the Negev, which would legalize the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities.
The Committee is concerned about discrimination against minorities within the Jewish population, in particular the under-representation of Mizrahi groups in higher education, management posts and the political/judicial sphere. It is also concerned about ongoing discrimination against Ethiopian Jews.
The Committee is concerned about the stigmatization of migrant workers on the basis of their country of origin. Pursuant to the 2012 Law to Prevent Infiltration, irregular asylum-seekers can be imprisoned for at least three years upon entry into Israel and asylum-seekers from “enemy states” can serve life sentences. That law and any other legislation under which refugees or asylum-seekers are denied the rights guaranteed under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees should be amended.
The Committee recommends that Israel counter and stem the tide of racism and xenophobia in public discourse, in particular by strongly condemning all racist and xenophobic statements by public officials and religious leaders directed, in particular, against Palestinians in “Israel proper” and in the OPT and against asylum-seekers of African origin. Israel should remind public prosecutors and the judiciary as a whole of the importance of evenhandedly prosecuting racist acts, irrespective of the alleged perpetrators’ status.
II. The OPT, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights
The Committee is extremely concerned about de facto segregation in the OPT, where there are two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for illegal settlers and Palestinians. The Committee is appalled at the hermetic character of this segregation. The two population groups do not enjoy equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources. Restrictions on freedom of movement include the Wall, roadblocks, separate roads and the imposition of a permit regime on the Palestinian population.
The Committee draws Israel’s attention to its General Recommendation 19 concerning the prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid, and urges it to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices which several and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population of the OPT.
The Committee notes that construction permits are rarely if ever granted to Palestinian and Bedouin communities. Settlements are expanded through the use of “state land” allocated for settlements, the provision of roads and water systems, and high approval rates for planning permits. The Israeli planning and zoning policy in the OPT breaches a range of fundamental rights under the Convention. Palestinians and Bedouins should be guaranteed rights to property and access to land, housing and natural resources (especially water). Israel should eliminate any policy of “demographic balance” from its Jerusalem Master Plan and from its planning and zoning policy in the rest of the West Bank.
With regard to Gaza, Israel should rescind its blockade policy and urgently allow all construction materials necessary for rebuilding homes and civilian infrastructure into the Gaza Strip.
The Committee is extremely concerned about the existence of two sets of criminal and civil laws, one for Palestinians and the other for settlers. It is also concerned about: an increase in the arrest and detention of children; the competence of military courts to try Palestinian children; the maintenance of administrative detention for both Palestinian children and adults based on evidence that is kept secret for security reasons; and the monetary and physical obstacles faced by Palestinians seeking compensation before Israeli tribunals for loss suffered, especially during “Operation Cast Lead”.
Israel should ensure equal access to justice for all persons in the OPT. It should end the practice of administrative detention, which constitutes arbitrary detention under international human rights law.
The Committee is concerned about racist violence and acts of vandalism by settlers. Moreover, 90 per cent of police investigations into settler-related violence during the period 2005-2010 were closed without prosecution. Terrorist groups such as “Price Tag” enjoy impunity and they also allegedly enjoy political and legal support from certain sections of the Israeli political establishment. Israel should ensure that all forms of violence are impartially investigated and that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Syrian residents of the Occupied Syrian Golan are denied equal access to land, housing and basic services. Family ties continue to be disrupted by the territory’s illegal annexation in 1981. The Committee urges Israel to find a satisfactory solution to the issue of family separation.
The Committee takes note of Israel’s explanation for its refusal to acknowledge and abide by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (adopted at the 2001 International Conference against Racism and Related Intolerance). The Committee strongly recommends that Israel re-examine its position and adopt adequate policies and plans to implement the Declaration.