A coalition of NGOs denounces the UN monitoring bodyâs second postponement in its review of Israelâs compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The hearing was originally planned for February 2006 and the postponed to August. Yet, Zionist pressure has urged â and obediently obtained â a second postponement. While The Occupation forces are unleashing their military forces on the people in Lebanon and Palestine, the UN monitoring bodies seem to prefer not to monitor.
Only days before the scheduled meeting, the NGOs that were supposed to brief the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) about Israelâs violations of the main international antiracism treaty were informed about the cancellation of the sessions. The organizations that still insisted to go to Geneva argue that the current Zionist crimes are well founded in the Occupationâs institutionalized racism. âIsraelâs bombardment of, and attack on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian populationâ, according to Joseph Schechla of the Housing and Land Rights Network (Habitat International Coalition), âis part and parcel of long-standing policies and programs instituted by the Israeli governmental and its parastatal bodies such as World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency to dispossess Palestinians of their land and property, in order to transfer those properties to immigrating Jewish citizens.â (See the detailed statement below.)
The same unacceptable attitude has been displayed by the âSpecial Commission on Israeli practicesâ. This August hearings should have been held to document the Human Rights violations of the Occupation. However, the committee has had the courage to quote exactly the current war crimes and escalating military attacks in Gaza and Lebanon as the reason for the postponement of the hearings. Protests by Palestinian organizations have fallen on deaf ears.
Neither the calls of the Palestinian and Lebanese and the people across the world nor the scenes of Apartheid Israelâs latest crimes, openly displayed every day on the TV screens, have moved the UN. The UN bodies have shown once more that they are more busy monitoring Zionist lobbying interests than the Occupationâs Human Rights violations they are set up to document.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE NGOS PRESENT IN GENEVA TO BRIEF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE CASE OF ISRAEL
3 August 2006, GENEVAâJust days before twelve representatives of nongovernmental organizations from around the world were set to arrive in Geneva to brief the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) about Israelâs compliance with the principle international antiracism treaty, CERD agreed to the Government of Israelâs request for an unprecedented second postponement of its review of the Stateâs treaty compliance. The periodic review is an obligation of all of State parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Israel was originally scheduled for review before CERD in February 2006, but had requested a postponement until August 2006.
Despite CERDâs agreement to the Israeli governmentâs delay, five members of the NGO coalition arrived in Geneva for a briefing with CERD on Wednesday. They formally proposed that the Committee immediately apply âurgent action procedures,â especially in light of the continuing gravity and escalation of the Government of Israelâs violations of ICERD
CERD is legally authorized to invoke urgent action and early warning procedures, regardless of whether the State appears before the Committee. That procedure allows CERD to address grave problems requiring immediate attention, in order to urge State compliance with the Convention and prevent or limit serious violations.
The NGO coalition members addressing the CERD Committee contend that Israelâs indiscriminate use of force in Lebanon and Gaza and its destruction of civilian property and infrastructure are an extension of the institutionalized forms of racism and discrimination that Israel has engaged to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian people since 1948. Israelâs bombardment of, and attack on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian population, according to Joseph Schechla of the Housing and Land Rights Network (Habitat International Coalition), is part and parcel of long-standing policies and programs instituted by the Israeli governmental and its parastatal bodies such as World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency to dispossess Palestinians of their land and property, in order to transfer those properties to immigrating Jewish citizens.â âIsraelâs discriminatory policies underlie its attack of neighboring Lebanon,â asserts Zaha Hassan, representative of both the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. âThe international community and CERD must not turn a blind eye to the source of the conflict in the region,â she added.
Israelâs postponement came at a time when CERD was set to examine Israelâs discriminatory Basic Laws for the first time, including those that deny the return of native-born Palestinian refugees to their own lands and properties; as well as the laws and practices that maintain separate and unequal legal systems for indigenous Arabs and immigrant Jews. Also on the agenda was to be the issue of the Arab Bedouins of the Negev, who are the most disadvantaged group in Israel, suffering from mass demolitions and continual discrimination in land and planning policies and access to basic services. âThe State of Israel continues to treat Arab Bedouins as transparent citizens. This treatment continues not just within Israel, but also at the international level, a situation that will result in greater recrimination for the State of Israel,â says Ariel Dloomy from the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, one of the five NGOs briefing CERD this week. In light of this lingering situation, the NGO coalition requested that CERD intervene within its mandate at the current session.
The NGO coalition also asked the CERD Committee to evaluate Israelâs âSeparation Policy,â redeploying its settlers to consolidate control over occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and besieging the Gaza Strip, while maintaining Jewish-majority zones demographically to diffuse native Arab communities. According to the coalition, the most visible feature of this Israeli âSeparation Policyâ is the construction of the Wall of Separation, which the International Court of Justice determined in 2004 to be illegal, must be dismantled in occupied Palestinian territory, that Israel must provide reparations for its victims, and the international community is obliged not to recognize and not to render aid or assistance the illegal situation resulting from the Wallâs construction or its âassociated regime.â
More fundamental are long-standing forms of discrimination in Israel that CERD has yet to consider in its review. Principal among them are the institutionalized forms of discrimination that Israel maintains by way of its two-tiered citizenship status, established through legal and institutional privileges extended exclusively to persons designated as having âJewish nationality.â
Israelâs failure to submit its biennial reports as required already has prevented the Committee from fully reviewing Israelâs compliance with ICERD since 1997. Since then, Israel has flouted the antiracism Convention, particularly by dashing the rights of its indigenous (Palestinian) population. Despite, CERD having previously invoked early warning and urgent action procedures with respect to Israelâs discriminatory Citizenship Law twice before, in 2003 and 2004, it has decided, without consensus, not to act on the current NGO request for urgent action procedures.
However, by dismissing the NGO request for currently needed urgent action procedures, CERD has missed an opportunity to uphold its vital treaty-monitoring function and indirectly contributed to Israelâs impunity. This legal inertia confirms that the safeguards instituted to protect human dignity and equality in rights, freedom and welfare are presently unavailable where Israeli State behaviour is concerned. Thus, the U.S.-based National Lawyers Guild representative noted that âCERD now has upheld the sensitivities of a State party at the expense of the human rights of those it was created to protect.â While the UN Security Council remains hostage to sadistic U.S. stalling tactics to protect Israelâs impunity in Lebanon, the worldâs peoples learn that the promise of international legality, once again, has failed them.