UN Calls on Israel to End Racial Discrimination
(HAIFA, Israel) On 13 March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("UN CERD" or "Committee") released its Concluding Observations, following its latest review of Israel.
Adalah submitted an NGO report to the Committee in December 2011 on Israel's lack of compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), in particular regarding Israel's systematic discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens of the state From 14-16 February 2012, Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn participated in the review sessions in Geneva, raising Adalah's key concerns in briefings before the Committee. Many of the issues Adalah included in our report and oral submissions were incorporated directly into UN CERD's concluding observations (CO).
The UN CERD monitors the compliance of State Parties with the ICERD. Israel ratified the convention in 1979 and as such, is bound by its provisions. Adalah has been submitting NGO human rights monitoring reports to the Committee since 1998, and uses the concluding observations of such international human rights bodies in our domestic legal interventions and advocacy in Israel.
Highlights of the concluding observations include calling upon Israel to:
- "Make every effort to eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities," with a specific criticism of the enactment of the Admission Committees Law (CO #11)
- "Ensure that the prohibition of racial discrimination and the principle of equality are included in the Basic Law." (CO #13)
- "Ensure equal access to land and property and to that end abrogate or rescind any legislation that does not comply with the principle of non-discrimination." (CO#15)
- "Abrogate all discriminatory laws and rescind all discriminatory bills so as to ensure non-Jewish communities' equal access to work and social benefits as well as the right to political participation." (CO #16)
- "Revoke the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provision) and to facilitate family reunification of all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or national or other origin." (CO #18)
- To close education, achievement, and income gaps between Jewish and non-Jewish communities, "to ensure equal enjoyment of economic and social rights for non-Jewish minorities," and to "redouble its efforts to achieve equality in women's access to all the rights enshrined in the Convention" (CO #19)
- "Withdraw the 2012 discriminatory proposed Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, which would legalize the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities" and to "step up its efforts to ensure equal access to education, work, housing and public health" for the Bedouin population. (CO #20)
Additionally, the Committee expressed concern over Israel's use of administrative detention and the admission of secret evidence for detainees, including children; and the inability of residents of the Gaza strip to access justice in Israeli courts, contrary to a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, prohibiting Israel from exempting itself from paying compensation to Palestinians for wrongful damages incurred by the Israeli military.
For the first time, the Committee expressed extreme concern at the existence of two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for Palestinians and for Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which it stated amounted to "de facto segregation". The Committee drew Israel'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 urged Israel to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices.