UNHRC poses “List of Issues” for Israel to Consider

Nazareth – On August 31, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) requested answers from Israel to 26 questions covering the national human rights situation, including new developments since the last meeting.  Israel signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1991.  Israel must respond to this “List of Issues” in the report to the HRC in 2013.  The report will be used to judge Israel’s compliance with the ICCPR and will guide future HRC recommendations.

In consideration of human rights status of the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel, The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) would like to call the attention of the HRC and the public specifically to a few of the 26 questions.  The following questions, taken directly from the HRC “List of Issues”, and their answers in Israel’s 2013 report, will be critical in considering the ongoing discrimination faced by the Arab Palestinian minority and the necessity for change:

  • Please provide detailed information on any significant developments in the legal and institutional framework within which human rights are promoted and protected at the national level that have taken place since the previous periodic report, including any relevant case law.
  • Please provide updated information on developments aimed at ensuring the full application of the Covenant in Israel, as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
  • Please indicate any step taken to include the principle of equality and nondiscrimination in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and to repeal any discriminatory laws.
  • In light of the Committee’s previous concluding observations (paras. 17 and 24) and in order to guarantee minorities’ rights, especially those of Palestinians and Bedouins, please provide updated information on measures taken:
    • To cease the  practice of  the  collective punitive  demolition of houses and private property
    • To recognize and promote the Bedouin population’s right to ancestral land and traditional livelihood (follow-up analysis on paragraph 24, CCPR/C/105/2). In this regard, please provide detailed information on the situation of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages and indicate measures that have been taken to stop the demolition of houses and indicate whether the State party envisages withdrawing the 2012 proposed Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev (Also known as the Prawer Plan)
    • To ensure the Bedouin’s and Palestinians’ access to health services, education, adequate housing, water and sanitation
    • What measures have been taken to ensure linguistic rights of Arab citizens of Israel?
    • To provide information on steps taken to ensure:
      • Equal representation of Jewish and Arab citizens in the civil service, in particular in decision-making positions
      • Equality in access to education between Jewish and Arab citizens, in particular in higher education where Arab citizens still face challenges to be accepted
      • The right of every citizen to participate in public life. In this regard, please comment on cases where political leadership of the Arab minority faces continued and severe attacks and harassment, including Members of Knesset
      • Please provide detailed information on efforts made to end the practice of administrative detention and whether the State party envisages withdrawing its derogations from article 9 of the Covenant. Please also indicate any measures taken to ensure that civilians are not tried before military courts and provide information on cases of ill treatment of detainees and arbitrary detention, in particular in cases of “shabah” and beatings.
      • Indicate how the State party ensures the full application of the principle of equality between women and men, in particular with respect to Israeli Arab women and women belonging to minorities
      • Please provide information on legislative measures envisaged or taken to incorporate the crime of torture in the legislation in conformity with article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and article 7 of the Covenant and to remove any justification of torture, including the notion of “necessity”
      • Provide detailed and updated information on the progress made to review  the legislation governing the state of emergency and the declaration made under article 4 of the Covenant. How does the State party refrain from using administrative detention and ensure that administrative detainees are afforded, in practice, all the fundamental safeguards, including the rights to have prompt access to a lawyer, to have an independent medical examination, to notify relatives and to receive visitors
      • Please indicate any steps taken by the State party to protect the rights of religious minorities and to ensure equal and non-discriminatory access to places of worship for Christians and Muslims
      • Provide detailed and updated information on the situation of human rights defenders’ freedom of association and freedom of opinion and expression and provide detailed information on the new Israeli anti-boycott law and its compliance with the right to freedom of conscience, expression and opinion. Please also provide information on the “Foreign Funding Law”, adopted on 2 March 2011 and specify what measures have been taken or are envisaged to revise these laws
      • Please provide information on measures taken to revoke the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary provision) and to review the State party’s policy with a view to facilitating family reunifications for all citizens and permanent residents without discrimination… Please also provide information on steps taken to ensure the right of Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem to marry or live with a Palestinian partner.

The HRA calls on Israel to make a forthright and conclusive effort in responding to the concerns we highlighted here in the report to the HRC in 2013.  The State of Israel, in signing the ICCPR, is obliged to uphold international standard of human rights and humanitarian law. Accurate censure of human rights abuses within Israel is a necessary condition of upholding those standards and that is what the HRA calls on the State of Israel to do in this report. Additionally, the HRA calls on Israel to implement the ICCPR and apply it to its full intent with regards to the Arab Palestinian minority.

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HRA Welcomes Corries to Nazareth

Nazareth – The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) held an event last Friday night to recognize Rachel Corrie and her family. It was an evening of stirring speeches and emotional tributes to the Corrie family’s ongoing struggle. Last month in a Haifa district court, Judge Oded Gershon denied the Corrie family’s most recent call for justice when, in his verdict, he decided Rachel Corrie was responsible for her own death.  This decision is the most recent event in the ongoing court case over Rachel Corrie’s death at the hands of the Israeli military in Gaza in 2003. Many advocacy groups, including the HRA, have denounced this ruling with a common complaint that it reinforces the “culture of impunity” for discriminatory Israeli institutions and practices.

In their visit to Nazareth, the Corrie family met with local dignitaries, including Mayor Ramiz Jeraisy. Mayor Jeraisy welcomed the Corrie family to the municipality building.  He took the occasion to say a few words to Craig and Cindy Corrie, “someone came to express the struggle against the occupation, and then her death came as a great shock.  It gives huge support for you to continue struggling.”  He continued, “a high price is paid every day, and the highest is the life of the people.”  Craig and Cindy graciously accepted the mayor’s welcome and kind words.  Mr. Corrie described his family’s efforts “when we join your struggle, we join the struggle for human rights everywhere.  We do not support Palestinian rights; we support human rights.  If they are being violated in Palestine, South Africa, or the United States, that is where we all need to defend them.”

Later, the HRA sponsored an evening program of distinguished speakers for a supportive crowd.  The program began with a heartwarming video of a young Rachel Corrie dipping her toes into the pool of international progressive issues and advocating for public health and the safety of the world’s children.  Another video showed an interview Rachel Corrie gave two days before her death.  In it she describes the devastation in Gaza caused by the Israeli occupation and displays compassion for the Gazans she had come to know.  Following the short videos a series of speakers recognized both the Corrie Family and Rachel’s dedication.  Such prominent community leaders as Mohammad Zeidan, head of the High Follow-Up Committee, the head of the Northern District Committee of the Israel Bar Association, Khalid Zoabi, and Ibtissam Mualem, chairperson of the HRA took turns speaking. Hussein Abu Hussein, the Corrie family’s lawyer and a board member of the HRA, described litigation process and the prospects of an appeal.  A feeling of solidarity pervaded the speeches and there was a consistent sense of communal support for both the Corrie family and the cause they have, through their diligent pursuit of justice, come to symbolize.

The HRA was honored to welcome them to Nazareth and will continue to support them personally and through their appeal in the Israeli justice system.

Keep up with the HRA online! Check out our website. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Racial profiling on Tel Aviv beaches: A shared U.S.-Israeli value?

This article originally appeared at +972 Magazine on 8/7/2012.  You can see it at its original domain here.

Inspectors in Tel Aviv once responsible for keeping beaches clean can now stop people they suspect of illegally residing in Israel. Like Arizona’s notorious S.B.1070 law, this could result in gross violations of the rights of both Israeli citizens and immigrants. Is this what politicians mean by “shared values?”

By Paul Karolyi

Politicians take every opportunity to tell us that the United States and Israel share values. It is those common ideals that bind us together in a “special relationship.” Rarely do they get specific about what those values are. Recent immigration reform laws passed in the United States and a discriminatory new regulation violating the rights of the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel together elucidate one shared value: suspicion.

On April 23, 2010 Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a package of new immigration reforms, S.B. 1070, into law. This law was the manifestation of a new strategy for stemming the tide of illegal immigration. Each provision of S.B. 1070 was intended to establish a policy of “attrition by enforcement,” designed to make illegal immigrants want to give up and go back home.

U.S. federal law requires aliens age 14 and older to register with the government if in the United States longer than 30 days, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. Of all the provisions of S.B. 1070, the Supreme Court reviewed four. Those provisions stated the following: it made it a state misdemeanor in Arizona for any alien to not carry their required documents; it allowed police officers to arrest a person without a warrant if the officer suspected they committed a crime worthy of deportation; it made it a criminal act for an immigrant to apply for or hold a job without immigration papers; and it allows officers to check the immigration status of detained persons if they suspect they are in the country illegally.

On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court deemed the first three provisions I list above, leaving the last, and most controversial, portion intact.  This last provision of S.B. 1070, and its now-infamous “reasonable suspicion” caveat has led to a renewal of political bickering in an ongoing immigration debate.  It also has made life for undocumented immigrants very difficult.  Every government official can act as an immigration agent as far as Arizona is concerned, because every official can demand to see papers in cases of “reasonable suspicion.”

So it goes. “Reasonable suspicion” now joins “pursuit of happiness” and “freedom” in the pantheon of American values.

In a far less publicized affair, Israel recently changed regulations for beach inspectors in a manner that mimics the Arizona immigration law.  An article in Haaretz from August 5, 2012 describes a scene on Jerusalem Beach in Tel Aviv recently.  The author, Roy Arad, was relaxing and enjoying the good weather when he saw a pair of beach inspectors asking a group of men for their identification cards.  Arad was surprised, because these officials were formerly tasked only with the management of litter levels and the intimidation of scallywags.

What Arad witnessed was the beach inspectors new responsibilities, which now include keeping an eye out for “suspicious characters” and turning them in to the police. It is important to note that the beach inspectors cannot make arrests, but only stop and demand ID from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

Most of Israel’s famously beautiful public beaches are free to enjoy for everybody. But this new regulation authorizing beach inspectors to act as immigration agents makes the environment is much less hospitable. Any Palestinian citizen of Israel, along with asylum seekers from Africa, can be profiled by these untrained beach inspectors. This can lead to harassment for mere suspicion that the beachgoer is a Palestinian from the West Bank in Israel illegally, without a special permit.. The beach may be free and beautiful, but if constant haranguing from people who until recently were only responsible for picking up trash gets too irritating, they could also become ethnically homogenous. Only those who do not look like undocumented immigrants will be able to enjoy the sun and the surf without fear of government interference.

Every citizen of Israel (though we mustn’t forget that even non-citizen Palestinians who are targeted on the beaches are natives to this land) should have the right to walk free of constant suspicion, just as America should be the land willing to take in “your huddled masses, yearning to break free.” In the case of the beaches of Tel Aviv, this is another case of discrimination against the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, and it must stop.