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Joint Parallel Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Israel’s Seventeenth to Nineteenth Periodic Reports

12-11-2019 10:34

1.       Overview

1:  Since 1948, the State of Israel has instituted a series of discriminatory laws, policies, and practices that form the foundation of its institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression over the indigenous Palestinian people as a whole, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and Palestinian refugees and exiles abroad. These discriminatory features arise from Israel’s raison d’État and seek to maintain a racialized regime of dispossession, domination, and systematic fragmentation of the Palestinian people, by persistently denying the right of reparation, including consensual return to their homes, lands, and property, to Palestinian refugees and other persons displaced in the waves of ethnic cleansing carried out since the State’s establishment.

2:  These measures have not abated since Israel, the State party, ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD or ‘the Convention’)[1] on 3 January 1979. Rather, Israel maintains a widespread State-driven effort to deprive the Palestinian people of its means of subsistence, in violation of the collective right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources, which underlies Israel’s widespread and systematic violations of the individual human rights of Palestinian persons within its jurisdiction or territory of effective control, and as refugees elsewhere. Each periodic review by the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD or ‘the Committee’), as well as by other UN treaty bodies, renews these observations. However, it is necessary to include the latest developments in the application of Israel’s discriminatory laws, policies, and practices, thereby contextualising them within the institutionalised nature of the violations that breach the Convention.

3:  In this joint parallel report to the Committee ahead of its 100th session, our organisations, including Al-Haq, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), and Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), address the seventeenth to nineteenth periodic reports submitted by Israel (hereinafter ‘State report’).[2] Our organisations substantiate that Israel has created and maintained an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, in violation of its obligations under international law, including Article 3 of ICERD,[3] which enshrines the obligation that “States Parties particularly condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction.”[4]

4:  Our joint report is submitted parallel to Israel’s State report in order to complement the information available to the Committee. While making reference to the State report, this submission covers critical issues regarding the rights of Palestinians, on which the State party remains ominously silent, which is consistent with Israel’s general and persistent failure to report on the rights of Palestinians, particularly in the oPt and as refugees elsewhere, as previously submitted to the Committee.[5] Indeed, the State report only includes one paragraph on Israel’s implementation of Article 3 of the Convention, indicating that “[a]partheid has always been regarded as abhorrent by the [Government of Israel] and society, and continues to be so regarded. Apartheid has never been practiced in Israel. There exists in Israel no restrictions of any kind as to place of residence nor is there any segregation of any kind.”[6]

5:  In this joint parallel report, our organisations examine Israel’s discriminatory laws, policies, and practices, as rooted in Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise in Palestine through the definition of the crime of apartheid in international criminal law. In particular, our report examines the manner in which Israel has maintained its apartheid regime, embedded in a system of impunity and the inability to meaningfully challenge Israel’s suspected crimes, which underpin Israel’s continued domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, through erasure and fragmentation, including the denial of Palestinian refugee return, restrictions on freedom of movement and residence, and the closure of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, coupled with ongoing policies and practices of demographic manipulation and population transfer.

6:  In addition, our organisations outline herein Israel’s creation of institutions, “legal” pretexts, coercive environments, and violent means designed to drive population transfer and undermine the Palestinian people’s will and capacity to challenge the apartheid regime. This has been carried out through discriminatory planning and zoning, illegal house demolitions, forced evictions, excessive use of force, foreclosing access to and control over Palestinians’ natural wealth and resources, and denying their access to basic services such as healthcare. Finally, the report highlights Israel’s continued efforts to silence opposition to its apartheid regime through intimidation and institutionalised harassment, which includes mass arbitrary detention of Palestinian civilians, torture and other ill-treatment, widespread measures of collective punishment, intense surveillance and intervention in communications, and Government-led smear campaigns intended to delegitimise the work of human rights defenders and organisations fuelled by racist hate speech and incitement to racial hatred and violence.

7:  Overall, our organisations urge the Committee to recognise and to declare that Israel’s policies have created, and continue to maintain, an institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, amounting to the crime of apartheid under Article 3 of ICERD. We further urge the Committee to consider the policies and practices presented in this joint parallel report, committed with the intention of maintaining Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, as constitutive of Israel’s raison d’État to erase and replace the indigenous Palestinian people. Our organisations stress that only by examining Israeli policy toward the Palestinian people as a whole can we begin to undo the political, legal, and geographic fragmentation imposed on the Palestinian people that underpins Israel’s apartheid regime.

 


[1]    International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (adopted 7 March 1966, entry into force 4 January 1969) 660 UNTS 195 (hereinafter ICERD).

[2]    CERD, Seventeenth to nineteenth periodic reports submitted by Israel, 2 March 2017, CERD/C/ISR/17-19.

[3]    International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (adopted 7 March 1966, entry into force 4 January 1969) 660 UNTS 195 (hereinafter ICERD).

[4]    Article 3, ICERD.

[5]    Al-Haq, BADIL, HIC-HLRN, and CIHRS, Joint Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the List of Themes on Israel’s Seventeenth to Nineteenth Periodic Reports, 100th Session, 5 September 2019, pp. 6–7, at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/15010.html.

[6]    State report, para. 54.