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Saturday, March 10, 2007

UN Committee on the Elimination on Racial Discrimination Calls for the Right of Return

UN committee: Israel should let Palestinian refugees come back
By Yoav Stern

A United Nations committee has called on Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their property and land in Israel and to ensure that the bodies responsible for distributing property, such as the Jewish National Fund, not discriminate against the Arab population.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination made the recommendation in its concluding observations released Friday, in response to a report Israel submitted on the matter. Representatives of a number of human rights groups appeared before the committee, including Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which presented objections to the official Israeli position.

The report recommends that Israel scrutinize its policy in a number of areas. Among them, it recommends that "the state party ensure that the definition of Israel as a Jewish nation state does not result in any systematic distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin." The committee also said it "would welcome receiving more information on how [Israel] envisions the development of the national identity of all its citizens."

The committee's deliberations were made in the framework of overseeing the implementation by various countries of the provisions of the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Israel has been a signatory to the convention since the late 1970s, and should submit a report every two years. However, it has not done so for nine years.

The appearence before the committee of the human rights organizations, which also included B'Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) and Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community Based Organizations in Israel), is part of an increasing trend to fight Israeli policies in international forums. Adalah said some of the information provided to the committee came from its international advocacy department assigned to UN committees.

The committee also noted positive developments, suchas the ministerial appointment of Raleb Majadele and the High Court decision to allow an Israeli Arab couple to buy land in a Jewish community.


UN: Israel must stop discrimination against Palestinians
Sun, 11 Mar 2007 02:35:40 The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says Israel should avoid discrimination against Arab Israelis or Palestinians living in Israeli-occupied lands such as the West Bank.

The committee specified that the Israeli regime should ease roadblocks and other restrictions on Palestinians, put a stop to settler violence, and hate speech.

Its 18 independent experts, who examined the records of 13 countries at a four-week meeting in Geneva, also said Israel should cease building a barrier in and around the West Bank and ensure its various checkpoints and road closures do not reinforce segregation.

The committee further voiced concern at the unequal distribution of water resources, a disproportionate targeting of Palestinians in house demolitions and the denial of the right of many Palestinians to return to their land.

The committee pointed out that differing applications of criminal law between Jews and Arabs had caused "harsher punishments for Palestinians for the same offence."

"A high number of complaints by Arab Israelis against police officers are not properly investigated and many Arabs suffer discriminatory work practices and high unemployment," the statement added.

It also warned against endangering the al-Aqsa mosque or impeding access to the holy Muslim site under the pretext of excavations.

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