HIC-HLRN & Partners in CCPR’s Israel Review
On 28 February 2022, HIC-HLRN joined HIC Members and allies in joint statement before a formal briefing with the United Nations Human Rights Committee (CCPR) in advance of its fifth periodic review of Israel’s performance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The briefing focused on a joint parallel report by Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center; Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; and the Community Action Center/Al-Quds University. That report to CCPR addressed the state party’s failure to implement ICCPR and the range of human rights violations arising from the breach of that treaty.
CCPR and its Covenant focus on the “process rights” that guarantee the rule of law and freedoms of movement, information, participation and association, as well as the rights to life, information and a fair trial, as well as freedom of expression, freedom from torture and the rights of minorities. The HIC-HLRN contribution to the joint parallel report addressed resulting from Israel’s spatial planning laws, the ideologically biased judicial system and violations of the freedom of movement. It also demonstrated how the human right to adequate housing of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line (1949 Armistice Line) is violated by procedural means that result in house demolitions, denials of building permits, revocation of residency rights, denial of family unification and discrimination in basic services to the depravation of the indigenous Palestinian people.
While these details constitute evidence of Israel’s “petty apartheid” practiced against Palestinian families and communities, they also point to the cumulative practice of “grand apartheid.” This policy has the ultimate purpose and effect of segregating and fragmenting the indigenous Palestinian people by constructing at least four broad legal regimes (as refugees outside Palestine, inside the Green Line, distinctly precarious status in East Jerusalem, and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip), which force corresponding administrative and spatial separation of the indigenous society, affecting the Palestinian people as a whole.
CCPR has recognized this grand-scale violation of the human right to adequate housing in previous reviews of Israel under ICCPR in 2010 and 2014. However, HIC-HLRN’s engagement with this legal body of the UN Human Rights System reflects and emphasizes the indivisibility of human rights and the indispensability of process rights in the exercise and realization of adequate housing. The case of Palestine also exemplifies how such violation of this right on a grand scale can deprive an entire people, including the systematic denial of its inalienable right to self-determination.
As HIC has expressed separately, this joint parallel report also highlighted Israel’s repression against Palestinian civil society, in general, but especially in the baseless and predatory designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations,” including HIC Members and other human rights organizations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Committee’s Concluding Observations began by noting certain positive developments since the previous review in 2014. These included a 2021 government resolution that ostensibly aims to promote diversity, extending to inclusion of the Arab population in private and public sectors, but which Arab mayors in Israel demand be cancelled, as it usurps their power to manage tenders for service provision in their towns. It cited as positive Israel’s 2019 Amendment No. 137 to the Penal Law 5737-1977, which recognizes racist motives as an aggravating circumstance for the offence of murder, but which the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has found to have insufficient effect (para. 26).
The Committee reiterated its objection to Israel’s unlawful and duplicitous position that the Covenant does not apply in the Palestinian and Syrian territories it occupies, while asserting that international human rights law does not apply when international humanitarian law is applicable (para. 6). It also expressed deep concern at the “Basic Law: Israel – The Nation-State of the Jewish People (2018), which may exacerbate pre-existing systematic and structural discrimination against non-Jews in the State party” by asserting that “the right to self-determination is ‘unique to the Jewish people’” and considers Jewish settlement [colonization] a national value (para. 10).
CCPR issued its Concluding Observations on Israel on 30 March 2022, the 46th national Palestinian Land Day. As noted in the Land Day statement in this issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض, the Committee expressed deep concern over Israel’s “interference with full access of Palestinians and the Syrian Arab population to their lands and livelihood in the occupied territories, through wrongful expropriation, confiscation, requisitions and encroachment.” CCPR was concerned also that, “despite the ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice that found the Regularization Law of 2017 unconstitutional, there remain other alternative mechanisms under the Israeli law allowing for retroactive legalization of unauthorized outposts and structures in settlements. It notes with deep concern the continued construction of the Wall in the West Bank, which significantly restricts Palestinians’ enjoyment and exercise of rights and freedoms, including freedom of movement and access to land, especially agricultural land, property and natural resources” (para. 14). CCPR found these practices to violate Articles 1, 2, 9, 12, 17, 18 and 26 of the Covenant.
Reiterating its previous recommendations, CCPR called on Israel to cease the construction and expansion of settler colonies and all settlement-realted activities in occupied territories, end the declaration and expropriation of private Palestinian and Syrian land as “state land,” immediately dismantle the Wall in line with the Advisory Opinion of ICJ on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of 9 July 2004 (para. 163), “with a view to ensuring Palestinians’ full access to their lands and livelihood and enjoyment of the Covenant rights, including the right of self-determination” (para. 15).
On the practice of demolition and forced eviction in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, CCPR cited Israel’s “increased and intensified practice of demolitions of Palestinian houses and other infrastructures in the West Bank, including in Sheikh Jarrah, including schools and water, sanitation and hygiene structures, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and their forced evictions and forcible transfer.” The Committee noted with regret that “Palestinians have been systematically deprived of their land and housing rights for decades, and the restrictive zoning and planning regime in the West Bank makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain construction permits, leaving them with no choice but to build illegally and risk demolition and eviction. In this respect, the Committee expresses its deep concern that such systematic practice of demolitions and forced evictions based on the discriminatory policies has led to the separation of Jewish and Palestinian communities in the OPT, which amounts to racial segregation” (para. 42). The Committee noted that these practices violate the Covenant’s Articles 2, 7, 12, 14, 17, 26 and 27, repeating its call for the state party to cease these and other systematic violations of the Covenant.
Download the joint statement here
See a factsheet summarizing the parallel report here
Download the full parallel report here
See CCPR’s Concluding Observations