Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

English (pdf) ||Arabic||Chinese||Français||Русский||Español||

Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS


        Economic and Social Council
13 July 1993

Original: FRENCH


Forty-ninth session


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 16 February 1993, at 10 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. ENNACEUR (Tunisia)
later: Mr. BROTODININGRAT (Indonesia)



Rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities


41. Mrs. GRAF (International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples) observed that minority groups were the first target of racist attacks which were becoming increasingly frequent. Acts of racist intolerance and racial discrimination constituted one of the most serious and urgent problems faced by the international community at the present time. Cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, which could be an important asset to any society, had unfortunately become the favourite target of nationalist and Fascist groups which manipulated the concept to serve their ends.

42. Her organization was deeply concerned by violations of the rights of minorities and drew the Commission's attention to the plight of Israeli citizens of Arab origin. The very state structure and policies of the Israeli Government enhanced and perpetuated discrimination against the Arab minority in that country. In fact, the Israeli Government engaged in systematic and institutionalized discrimination with impunity. For example, although the Law of Return, the first Law to be enacted by the Israeli Parliament following the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, gave any Jew in the world the right to obtain Israeli citizenship on request, the Arabs who had been living on that same land for centuries before the creation of Israel faced enormous difficulties and were denied their most elementary rights. Under the Land Laws, for example, the land of the State was the exclusive property of the Jewish people and not of citizens of Israel. In point of fact, there were two different types of institutions in Israel, namely, national and governmental. The former served only people of the Jewish faith whereas governmental institutions served all citizens, both Jews and Arabs. National institutions owned 92 per cent of Israeli land. The Arab citizens of Israel who accounted for 17 per cent of the total population, were deprived of the use of that national land under the provisions of the Jewish National Fund Charter which considered the land as "redeemed" to the Jewish people in perpetuity. As a result, national land belonged not only to Israeli Jews but to all Jews residing in other countries. The national institutions developed 92 per cent of the land in connection with agriculture, industry, social services and housing for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews. The budget of the Jewish Agency was so large that in a few years it had exceeded that of the Israeli Government itself. When the Jewish Agency's operating fund had been low, the Israeli Government had not hesitated to make good the deficit by the general taxation of all Israeli citizens. Allocations from the State budget to the Arab communities of Israel represented less than one-quarter of those earmarked for Jewish settlements. Arab schools were allocated only 11 per cent of the total education budget although Arabs accounted for 20 per cent of the total school population and Jewish schools had twice as many teachers as Arab schools. Furthermore, infantile mortality was higher among the Arabs in Israel than among the Jews.

43. Examples of that institutionalized discrimination in Israel was also apparent in the treatment of Arab towns and Jewish towns. For instance, not a single Arab town was to be found on a list of those whose residents received tax benefits under an income tax regulation. That same list of towns was also used to allocate funds and human resources to schools. Preferential treatment was therefore accorded to Jewish towns, even though the poorest of such towns was often not wealthier than the richest Arab village. Yet from the standpoint of injustice, nothing could match the plight of the 40 "unrecognized" Arab villages situated in the north of Israel. They had existed for centuries but did not appear on any Israeli maps or in government lists or censuses. They had no social services, schools, water, electricity or even sewage systems. The Israeli authorities had surrounded them with Jewish settlements to prevent their extension and frequently issued their inhabitants with demolition orders. The Israeli authorities justified their action by arguing that the villages had been built on agricultural land. The fact that the inhabitants had been living in them for generations, in other words well before the creation of Israel, was systematically ignored. The argument that villages were situated on agricultural land was immediately reversed when their was a question of a Jewish settlement. For instance, the Arab village of Kammaneh had never being recognized on the pretext that it had been built on agricultural land, whereas two Jewish settlements had been established close by and their infrastructure and services had been quickly provided.

44. That was why there was an entire category of second class citizens in Israel at the present time. It should therefore come as no surprise that a recent opinion poll revealed that almost 40 per cent of Israelis had racist and discriminatory feelings towards their fellow Arab citizens. The Commission should consequently stress its action aimed at the eradication of such manifestations of racial, religious and cultural discrimination. All international, national and non-governmental organizations must also fight that abhorrent phenomenon so as to build a more tolerant world and ensure respect for human rights.

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter