4 August 2010
UN Human Rights Committee Urges Israel to Revoke Ban on Family Unification Law; Ensure Access to non-Jewish Holy Sites; Make Public Administration Fully Accessible in Arabic; Guarantee Cultural Contact for the Arab Minority; Respect Bedouin Rights to Ancestral Land and Basic Services in the Unrecognized Villages
(Haifa, Israel) On 29 July 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), issued its Concluding Observations on Israel. The Concluding Observations addressed many of the issues brought before the Committee by Adalah in its two NGO reports on Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, and in oral interventions provided by Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn at the Committee's review sessions in Geneva in mid-July 2010.
In the Concluding Observations, the Committee found a large number of violations of Israel's obligations under the ICCPR. It voiced concerns about Israeli laws, policies and practices that violate the rights of Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, and made a series of recommendations to Israel about how to ensure the protection of the rights of the Palestinian minority in Israel, as protected by the ICCPR.
The Committee called on Israel, inter alia, to: amend its Basic Laws and other legislation to include the principle of non-discrimination; complete its review of legislation governing the state of emergency; revoke the law banning family unification; ensure equal and non-discriminatory access to places of worship, and include holy sites of religious minorities in its list; make its public administration fully accessible in Arabic; ensure that all road signs are available in Arabic; guarantee the right of minorities to enjoy their own culture, including by travelling abroad; respect the Arab Bedouin population's right to their ancestral land and guarantee their access to health, education, water and electricity in the unrecognized villages.
The Committee's concluding observations and recommendations included the following issues raised by Adalah:
Principle of equality
- The Committee is concerned that Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty does not contain a general provision for equality and at long delays for deciding and implementing cases invoking the principle of non-discrimination.
- Israel should amend its Basic Laws and other legislation to include the principle of non-discrimination and ensure that allegations of discrimination brought before its domestic courts are promptly addressed and implemented.
Permanent state of emergency
- The Committee reiterates its concern at the State party's prolonged process of review regarding the need to maintain the state of emergency it declared in 1948. The State party should complete its review of legislation governing the state of emergency.
Ban on family unification
- The Committee reiterates its concern with the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which adversely affects the lives of many families, remains in force and has been declared constitutional by the Israeli Supreme Court. The law should be revoked and Israel should review its policy with a view to facilitating family reunifications of all citizens and permanent residents without discrimination.
Non-Jewish holy sites
- The Committee is concerned at frequent disproportionate restrictions for non-Jews to access places of worship and that the list of holy sites includes only include Jewish holy places. Israel should increase its efforts to protect the rights of religious minorities, ensure equal access to places of worship, and include holy sites of religious minorities in its list.
Status of the Arabic language
- The Committee expresses concern at the continued limited use of the Arabic language by Israel's authorities, including the absence of translations of leading cases of its Supreme Court into Arabic, the transliteration of road signs from Hebrew into Arabic, and the frequent unavailability of road signs in Arabic.
- Israel should make its public administration fully accessible in Arabic, consider translating cases of its Supreme Court into Arabic, and ensure that all road signs are available in Arabic and should reconsider its transliteration process from Hebrew into Arabic.
Cultural contact for the Arab minority in Israel
- The Committee is concerned at severe limitations on the right to cultural contact with other Arab communities based on the ban to travel to an “enemy State,” the majority of which are Arab States. Israel should increase its efforts to guarantee the right of minorities to enjoy their own culture, including by travelling abroad.
The Arab Bedouin in the Naqab
- The Committee is concerned at forced evictions of the Bedouin population and inadequate consideration of their traditional needs in the planning and development of the Negev (Naqab). Israel should respect the Bedouin population's right to their ancestral land and their traditional livelihood based on agriculture.
- Israel should guarantee the Bedouin population's access to health, education, water and electricity irrespective of their whereabouts, including in the unrecognized villages.
All NGO, State party and Committee documents are available at: