March 13th, 2012 | Add a Comment
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), published its concluding observations this morning (March 13th), calling Israel to take immediate measures to eradicate apartheid policies or practices which severely affect the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and which violate the provisions of the Convention on the prevention of racial segregation and apartheid.
After considering the state report by Israel on compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and the ICAHD parallel report (found here…) the Committee urged Israel to reconsider its policies in order to guarantee Palestinian and Bedouin rights to property, access to land, access to housing and access to natural resources, and eliminate any policy of “demographic balance” from its Jerusalem Master Plan as well as from its planning and zoning policy in the rest of the West Bank.
The ICAHD report, authored by Adv. Emily Schaeffer from the Michael Sfard Law Office and ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain provided information for consideration by the Committee in advance of its examination of Israel's periodic reports. The report focuses on Israel's failure to comply with the Convention in relation to the Occupation of the Palestinian territory, and its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill Palestinians human rights, in accordance with international law and standards.
Epshtain and ICAHD UK Director Linda Ramsden addressed the Committee and highlighted Israel's protracted non-compliance with obligations stemming from the Convention and other human rights instruments. While Israel persistently refuses to provide information on ICERD implementation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, ICAHD provided the Committee with pertinent information on the plight of Palestinian under the effective control of Israel. To listen to the statement, press here…
In a side event held by ICAHD in conjunction with Al-Haq, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, BADIL – Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refuge Rights, and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a joint addendum was presented, and Committee members were encouraged to adopt aforementioned recommendations.
ICAHD Co-Director Epshtain addresses the Committee
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.
The Committee adopted the following concluding observations:
- The Committee reiterates its view that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin. Actions that change the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory are also of concern as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
- The Committee is extremely concerned at the consequences of policies and practices which amount to de facto segregation, such as the implementation by the State party in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for Jewish communities grouped in illegal settlements on the one hand and Palestinian populations living in Palestinian towns and villages on the other hand. The Committee is particularly appalled at the hermetic character of the separation of two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources. Such separation is concretized by the implementation of a complex combination of movement restrictions consisting of the Wall, roadblocks, the obligation to use separate roads and a permit regime that only impacts the Palestinian population. The Committee draws the State party’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 urges the State party to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and which violate the provisions of article 3 of the Convention.
- The Committee is increasingly concerned at the State party’s discriminatory planning policy, whereby construction permits are rarely if ever granted to Palestinian and Bedouin communities and demolitions principally target property owned by Palestinians and Bedouins. The Committee is greatly concerned at the State party’s policy of “demographic balance”, which has been a stated aim of official municipal planning documents, particularly in the city of Jerusalem.
- In light of its previous concluding observations and considering that the current Israeli planning and zoning policy in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, seriously breaches a range of fundamental rights under the Convention, the Committee urges the State party to reconsider the entire policy in order to guarantee Palestinian and Bedouin rights to property, access to land, access to housing and access to natural resources (especially water resources). The Committee also recommends that any planning and zoning policy be implemented in consultation with the populations directly affected by those measures. It calls on the State party to eliminate any policy of “demographic balance” from its Jerusalem Master Plan as well as from its planning and zoning policy in the rest of the West Bank.
The Committee concluding observations in their entirety can be found here.
Epshtain and ICAHD UK Director Linda Ramsden at CERD side event