NGO STATEMENT: The UN Human Rights Council Must Protect Palestinians from Forced Displacement on Both Sides of the Green Line

Today, a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations calls on the UN Human Rights Council to protect Palestinians from forced displacement on both sides of the Green Line. As the Council, member states, and civil society discuss the human rights situation in Palestine under Item 7, with a special focus on Israel's housing and settlement policies, the organizations urge the Council to fully endorse the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements and of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing.

We, the undersigned Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, state as follows:

  1. In 2012, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik and the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements (FFM) conducted independent inquiries into Israeli policies regarding housing and the settlements to be presented during the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteur Rolnik was granted entry to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), while members of the FFM were not; they held their meetings in Amman. Both reports highlight Israel’s forcible transfer of Palestinians through the implementation of discriminatory policies and practices. Moreover, the two reports underscore Israel’s serious violations of international law, including grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and emphasize Israel’s pervasive violations of the human rights of Palestinians, such as the rights to self-determination, non-discrimination, adequate housing and an adequate standard of living.
  2. We support the findings of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as they relate to Israel’s systematic exclusion, discrimination and displacement of both Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the OPT, noting that Palestinian Bedouin communities – in Israel and the OPT– are particularly vulnerable to displacement and dispossession.
  3. We highlight that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur also echo those of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In its concluding observations of its 2012 review of Israel, the Committee noted with concern that Israel’s discriminatory planning policy habitually denies construction permits to Palestinians, including Bedouin, and targets their property for demolition. The Special Rapporteur further supports the CERD conclusions in calling for the repeal of all Israeli legislation relevant to the right to adequate housing, that “in their application, do not comply with the principle of non-discrimination."
  4. As emphasized in both the Special Rapporteur and the FFM reports, the discriminatory treatment by Israel in the implementation of the right to adequate housing is clearly manifest in the construction and expansion of the Israeli settlements in the OPT.  The FFM report emphasized that Palestinians are regularly attacked by settlers, who use physical violence and intimidation as a means of pressuring Palestinians to leave their lands. Settlements, together with ensuing settler violence, are a predominant factor of forced displacement in the OPT. We support both reports in urging Israel to cease all construction and expansion of settlements in the OPT immediately.
  5. We further endorse the FFM’s recommendation to individual Member States of the UN to adhere to their obligations stemming from Israel’s violations of peremptory norms of international law, including the denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, the prohibition of the extensive destruction and appropriation of property, and prohibition of colonialism. As such, and in accordance with international law, the international community must implement all available mechanisms in order to pressure Israel to effectively halt settlement activity and the forced displacement of Palestinians.
  6. We believe that discriminatory land laws and policies lie at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation. Therefore, justice for the Palestinian people for their forced displacement and the illegal appropriation of their land and other natural resources is crucial to achieving a just and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  7. We call on the Human Rights Council to fully endorse both reports, and to ensure that the FFM report is given its due consideration by calling for a follow-up report on the implications and implementation of the FFM recommendations to be sent by the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly at its 68th session this year.
  8.  We further urge the Human Rights Council to issue the strongest possible resolutions calling on Israel, the international community and individual member states to uphold general principles of international law and implement all available mechanisms to achieve justice for Palestinian victims of forced displacement on both sides of the Green Line.