A United Nations human rights committee has called on Israel to âensure equal treatment for all persons on the territories under its effective control and subject to its jurisdictionâ â inside Israel, in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, and in the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to a press release by the Haifa-based Adalah â The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which reviews statesâ compliance with the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) â ratified by Israel in 1979 â issued its concluding observations of Israel on 12 December.
CERD is the first of the UN human rights treaty bodies to issue concluding observations that clearly apply to all territories under Israelâs jurisdiction and effective control as a single entity, said Adalah. In the past the UN committees for human rights distinguished between Israeli policies that apply to the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) from its policies inside Israel, which are based on two different legal systems.
CERD called on Israel to amend or revoke discriminatory legislation that does not comply with the principle of equality and discriminates against Palestinians living anywhere in the territories under its effective control and jurisdiction. The laws highlighted by CERD included, amongst others, the Admission Committees Law, the Family Unification Ban Law, and the Breach of Loyalty Law aimed at revocation of residency of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Adalah provided CERD, in its reports to the committee, with analysis of numerous discriminatory laws that apply to Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians residents of the OPT.
CERD also urged Israel to âeradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities and any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population in Israel proper and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,â in a clear indication of its comprehensive perspective of the Israel/OPT area.
“The change in perception reflected in CERD’s conclusions has historical dimensions, since for the first time Israel is defined by a UN expert committee as a regime that exercises apartheid practices against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line,â said Adalah. âThe policy of separating Jews from Palestinians â not only as a result of the operation of separate legal systems in the OPT, but also by enshrining racial segregation as a constitutional value â is in total violation of the Rome Convention, which defines apartheid as a crime against humanity. The Jewish people’s exclusive right to self-determination in all territories under Israeli control, as laid down the Jewish Nation-State Law, along with the definition of Jewish settlement activity as a national value, indicates an intention to perpetuate racial segregation from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. This could have far-reaching implications for defining the character of the Israeli regime by international legal bodies.”
Adalahâs key concerns, documented in its advocacy reports and during its presentations before CERD in Geneva during its review of Israel in early December, are included in all four of the issues that CERD identified as being of âparticular importanceâ: the Jewish Nation-State Law; discriminatory laws; segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities; and racist hate speech and hate crimes.
CERD asked Israel to provide detailed information about concrete steps it is taking to implement these recommendations of particular importance.
CERD determined that Israelâs Jewish Nation-State Basic Law discriminates against non-Jewish people throughout Israel and the OPT and stands in violation of ICERD.
It called on Israel to review the law and bring it into line with ICERD, particularly with regard to its ing of the exercise of the right to self-determination exclusively to the Jewish people, its downgrading of the Arabic language in Israel, and the constitutional backing that the law gives to Jewish settlements in the OPT.
While Israelâs control over the entire territory of Israel/OPT is a longstanding reality, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law has constitutionally enshrined that reality, said Adalah, welcoming this recommendation by CERD.
CERD closely echoed Adalahâs calls regarding hate speech and hate crimes by urging Israel to âstep up its efforts to counter and stem the tide of racism and xenophobia in public discourse, in particular by strongly condemning all racist and xenophobic statements by public figures, political and religious leaders, as well as media personalities, and by implementing appropriate measures to combat the proliferation of acts and manifestations of racism that particularly target non-Jewish minorities.â
It also urged Israel to âensure that public prosecutors and the judiciary as a whole prosecute racist hate speech and hate crimes by applying the same standards, irrespective of the alleged perpetratorsâ ethnic or national origin.â
CERD called on Israel to provide information within one year on its forced displacement and eviction of Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab (Negev), the demolition of their homes, and other violations of their land and property rights.
Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum raised the issue of Bedouin citizens in the Naqab region of southern Israel extensively in joint advocacy with CERD.
CERD has also called on Israel to provide â within a one-year time frame â information on Israeli national institutions with semi-governmental status such as the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency. CERD called on Israel to bring them to into compliance with Israelâs obligations under international law.
~Days of Palestine, Haifa
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Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (firstname.lastname@example.org)