|Committee on Elimination |
of Racial Discrimination
23 February 2007
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the tenth to thirteenth periodic reports of Israel on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting the report, Itzhak Levanon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that, despite the numerous, unique and pressing menaces facing Israel in its unceasing struggle against terrorism, and the wars and hostilities imposed upon them, Israel had consciously chosen to open itself to international scrutiny through interaction with UN human rights treaty bodies, other UN mechanisms and non-governmental organizations. Despite those challenges, it was all the more encouraging to note the progress made by Israel, both in terms of policy and legislation. Among those developments were the first-time appointment of an Arab Israeli to the Cabinet; the Multiyear Development Plan for the Arab Israeli Sector, which fostered development in education, housing and employment; the enactment of the Public Places Law, which prohibited discrimination in places such as schools, pools, stores, and places of entertainment; the Pupil's Rights Law, which forbade discrimination in the admission of students; the Foreign Workers' Law, which provided increased protection for Israel's large migrant worker population; and a new affirmative action programme in Government recruiting.
Gal Levertov, Director of the Department of International Affairs of the Office of the State Attorney of Israel, continuing with the presentation, highlighted the central role that had been played by Israel's High Court of Justice in promoting racial justice and implementing Israel's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In a 2006 case, the Court had restated the principle that it was the obligation of the Israeli Government not just to struggle against inequality and racism; the Government had to act consistently and continuously to advance equality.
In preliminary concluding observations, Morten Kjaerum, the Committee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of Israel, welcomed the information provided by the Israeli delegation on affirmative action plans, as well as the Government's attitude that discrimination was not acceptable. However, relying on jurisprudence of the Supreme Court according to which the principle of equality was derived from the Basic Law on dignity was not sufficient; specific legislation prohibiting discrimination was needed. On the issue of direct discrimination, he also wondered whether, the right balance was being struck between security laws and human rights in cases of family reunification. Finally, in terms of indirect discrimination, issues such effects of the construction of the wall and of the implementation of security laws needed to be looked into.
Other Committee Experts raised questions, made comments, and asked for further information on subjects pertaining to, among other things, discrimination in the water supply to the Arab populations; preferential treatment for Jewish nationals under the law of return; whether there was any recognition for traditional patterns of landholding, in particular with regard to Bedouin communities; Israel's stance that international conventions did not apply to the Occupied Palestinian Territories; what progress had been registered in closing the large socio-economic gap between the Jewish and Arab populations; and whether there were alternatives to compulsory military service, given that Arabs did not participate and numerous benefits were tied to completion of service.
The delegation of Israel included other members of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well as representatives from the Office of the State Attorney, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.
The Committee will present its written observations and recommendations on the tenth to thirteenth periodic reports of Israel, which were presented in one document, at the end of its session, which concludes on 9 March.
When the Committee reconvenes at 3 p.m. it is scheduled to take up the fifteenth to nineteenth periodic reports of India (CERD/C/IND/19).
Report of Israel
The key programme reflecting the State of Israel's commitment to comply with the basic principles enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in both a procedural and substantive manner is the Multiyear Development Plan for the Arab Israeli Sector. The tenth to thirteenth periodic reports of Israel, submitted in one document (CERD/C/471/Add.2), says that the goal of this Development Plan is to provide proper financial support and direction to the Arab minority sector that would promote short term growth as well as encourage long term development in education, housing, employment and economic growth. The aim of the plan is to reach out to the Arab minority in a unique manner by positively affecting all aspects of the minority sectors' relationship with the State and society. Some 9 billion NIS were allocated for this programme, and the Government has so far executed 88 per cent of the plan.
In addition, over the past few years, the Government has made important inroads into improving the minority population's representation within the civil service and government companies. The Government instituted affirmative action programmes and mandated specific target goals that would nearly double the number of minority employees within public service bodies. The Government has also been active in addressing the rights of migrant workers. Changes have been implemented that more fully protect their rights, particularly vis-à-vis their employers. This has largely been instituted via the establishment of specific enforcement divisions within the relevant governmental authorities, provided with special training. In 2001, the Government stated in its Statement of Basic Principles that it will strive to create positions in the civil service, at the highest levels, for persons from the Arab sector. There have been major improvements in the Arab representation in the civil service, with a growing increase of minority employees every year. Indeed, the Government established fixed target figures for the number of employees from the minority population.
Presentation of Report
ITZHAK LEVANON, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, was pleased to note that since Israel's last presentation before this Committee in 1998, several significant developments had taken place both in terms of law and practice, which placed Israel in line with its commitments under the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Despite the numerous, unique and pressing menaces facing Israel in its unceasing struggle against terrorism, and the wars and hostilities imposed upon them both close at hand and far from their borders, Israel had consciously chosen to open itself to international scrutiny through interaction with UN human rights treaty bodies, other UN mechanism and non-governmental organizations.
Israel recognized that it had to impose restraints on its own actions, in conformity with international law. Yet, it was important to outline to the Committee that understanding Israel's pressing security, political and social situation was critical for recognizing the context in which they had made advances in their fight against racial discrimination and the challenges they still faced.
A cursory glimpse of developments in the region that had impacted life in Israel since they had last appeared before the Committee included: the outburst of ongoing violence and armed hostilities in the West Bank and Gaza since 2000; the election of a terrorist organization to lead the Palestinian Authority; Israel's complete military and civilian disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005; Hizbullah's and Hamas' kidnapping of three Israeli servicemen still kept in captivity, which had triggered the war with Lebanon; and the resurgence of Anti-Semitism in many parts of the world, which had reached its nadir with the public invective of Iran's President, who had denied the Holocaust and had called for Israel's annihilation. That reality imposed major burdens to ideal implementation of the Convention, as so many resources and energy were understandably diverted to uphold Israel's security.
Despite those challenges, Mr. Levanon said it was all the more encouraging to note the progress made by Israel, both in terms of policy and legislation. Among those developments, he highlighted the first-time appointment of an Arab Israeli to the Cabinet; the Multiyear Development Plan for the Arab Israeli Sector, which fostered development in education, housing and employment; the enactment of the Public Places Law, which prohibited discrimination in places such as schools, pools, stores, places of entertainment and other places serving the public; the Pupil's Rights Law, which forbade discrimination in the admission of students at educational institutions; the newly implemented Foreign Workers' Law, providing increased protection for Israel's large migrant worker population; and a new affirmative action programme in Government recruiting.
Continuing with the presentation of Israel's report, GAL LEVERTOV, Director of the Department of International Affairs of the Office of the State Attorney, noted that Israel had been founded as a refuge for the Jewish, who had been victims of racial discrimination, rising from the ashes of the Holocaust. In its declaration of independence, Israel undertook to foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; to ensure complete equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion, race or sex; to guarantee freedom of religion and to safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
In terms of measures taken to eliminate racial discrimination during the reporting period, Mr. Levertov said that Israel's High Court of Justice played a central role in promoting racial justice and implementing Israel's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Public petitioners could file petitions on complaints of discrimination directly with the High Court of Justice, and 2,300 such petitions were filed each year. For example, last March, a community association had petitioned the High Court of Justice, challenging the Israel Land Administration's ruling that their admission criteria were discriminatory and therefore invalid. The Community Association had denied the application for admission to their community of individuals that had not served in the Israeli Defense Forces. The High Court of Justice had upheld the Israel Land Administration decision, and emphasized the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion. In another 2006 case, the Court had restated the principle that it was the obligation of the Israeli Government not just to struggle against inequality and racism; the Government had to act consistently and continuously to advance equality.
With regard to hate speech, Mr. Levertov said that charges had been filed against soccer fans for racist remarks made at soccer matches. Following that case, the Knesset had amended its laws on public association to specifically prohibit racist speech in soccer matches.
Mr. Levertov said that although Israel did not yet have a formal written constitution, Basic Laws guaranteed the fundamental rights of every person in Israel. In 1992, two significant Basic Laws for the protection and promotion of human rights had been enacted: "Human Dignity and Liberty" and "Freedom of Occupation".
Since 1998, significant steps had been taken by the Knesset to promote tolerance and eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, Mr. Levertov said. Israel's Civil Service Law was amended in 2000 to obligate the Government to assure the appropriate representation of the Arab sector
and other minorities in the civil service through the establishment of affirmative action programmes. Furthermore, several amendments to the Penal Law had created important tools to enable prosecution of racist violence and hate crimes. In 2002, the Knesset criminalized incitement to racial hate in penal law, and added a new section "Hate Offences Under Aggravated Circumstances" in 2004. Moreover, in 2001, amendments to the telecommunications law prohibited transmission of programmes that incited racial hatred.
Israel was committed to taking all measures to eradicate racial hatred in its different forms and manifestations. In that regard, Mr. Levertov underscored that Israel was deeply concerned by the increase of anti-Semitic actions around the world, and urged the Committee to place due emphasis on that aspect in its consideration of periodic reports.
Finally, Mr. Levertov noted that the foreign workers law was amended in 2000 to ensure that proper working conditions and rights were ensured to migrant workers. In addition, the holding of foreign workers passports was made a criminal offence.
Oral Questions Raised by the Rapporteur and Experts
MORTEN KJAERUM, the Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Israel, noted the high quality of the report submitted, which largely followed the Committee's reporting guidelines, and welcomed the fact that non-governmental organizations had been requested to comment on the report before it was submitted. He noted with regret, however, that the report did not contain any information about the implementation of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. He recalled that Israel had an obligation to implement the Convention for all persons under their jurisdiction.
Mr. Kjaerum recognized at the outset the difficult situation that Israel was in with regard to the armed attacks taking place in the territory, and the serious human rights issues that terrorism gave rise to. It was important, however, that all measures to counter terrorism and to ensure the security of the population must not undermine human rights protections in other areas.
Among positive points in Israel's report, Mr. Kjaerum welcomed the passing of the bill on prevention of discrimination in access to public services and to public places. He also welcomed the information that the criminal procedure bill 1996 applied to all citizens and residents without discrimination. However, he was concerned that it allowed individuals to be held incommunicado for long periods or to be held for a long time without appearing before a judge.
He was pleased to note the law to ensure appropriate representation by minorities in the civil service, which set time-bound targets for its implementation. In that connection, Mr. Kjaerum wondered what feedback they had had on the law and whether any other such measures were contemplated, for example ones that targeted minority women in particular.
Mr. Kjaerum stressed that Israel was defined as both democratic and Jewish. Those two concepts expressed distinct sets of values, which were not mutually exclusive and could be reconciled. However, neither the law of return, the citizenship law nor the "Basic law: human dignity and freedom", provided a general prohibition against discrimination or an equality clause. How could they ensure that the application of those fundamental laws were compatible with the principles of non-discrimination as embodied in article 1 of the Convention?
Noting the information provided on laws on hate crimes and cases brought under those laws, Mr. Kjaerum was concerned that it appeared the Attorney General had adopted a restrained policy in relation to prosecutions against politicians, government officials and public figures.
Regarding the right to a fair trial and equality before the law, Mr. Kjaerum urged Israel to pay attention to the following indicators: low numbers of complaints of discrimination; low numbers of prosecutions for complaints made; harsher sentences for Arabs than Israelis; and a disproportionately high number of Arabs than Israelis in prisons.
The case of Ka'adan v. The Israel Lands Administration (2000) had established an important precedent regarding anti-discrimination in land rights. However, Mr. Kjaerum was curious to know what had been done to implement that decision and what its scope was.
Noting the housing shortage for the Arab communities, and the large number of Arab homes that were built without permits, Mr. Kjaerum asked what the barriers were to obtaining building permits. The construction of buildings without permits had a number of ramifications, and he was particularly concerned that the Arab community suffered disproportionately from house demolitions.
Turning to the issue of freedom of movement, Mr. Kjaerum said some restrictions resulted in a de facto prohibition of travel for Palestinian drivers in the occupied Arab territories. In a 2005 case, it had been found that the course of the wall had caused disproportionate suffering to the Palestinian people in that area and had recommended a changed course. In that connection, he asked if there was any study planned to discover the impact of the wall on communities. Also, what measures had Israel taken to implement the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?
Other Committee Experts raised questions and asked for further information on subjects pertaining to, among other things, working conditions for migrant workers; discrimination in water supply to the Arab populations; whether there was a prohibition against the marriage of Arab Israelis and those from the Occupied Palestinian Territories; preferential treatment for Jewish nationals under the law of return; whether there was any recognition for traditional patterns of landholding, in particular with regard to Bedouin communities; Israel's stance that international conventions did not apply to the Occupied Palestinian Territories; what progress had been registered in closing the large socio-economic gap between the Jewish and Arab populations; and whether there were alternatives to compulsory military service, given that Arabs did not participate and numerous benefits were tied to completion of service.
An Expert noted that the system of apartheid was abhorrent to Israeli society. She inquired what understanding the State party had of the concept of segregation, given that in other parts, the report referred to an "Arab sector". She wished to know how the structural organization of Israeli society promoted the principle of non-discrimination and equality.
An Expert asked why the Israeli authorities had once again enflamed tensions between Arabs and Israelis by their actions concerning the Al-Aqsa Mosque, when for years it had been a dormant issue.
An Expert asked how history was taught in schools, whether it was standardized or diversified, and to what extent it was conducive to reconciliation.
Response by Delegation to Oral Questions
ITZHAK LEVANON, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, responding to the issue of why Israel had not supplied advance responses to the Committee's list of issues, assured Experts that that had not been an intentional strategy. Rather, as their legal team had prepared its responses, it became clear that many of the answers prepared had become outdated in certain respects, given the fluid and constantly changing reality in Israel. Hence, they had made a conscious decision to orally respond to those questions.
On restrictions on freedom of movement in and around Israel, Mr. Levanon said that, to begin with, the country Rapporteur had rightly acknowledged that freedom of movement was not absolute, and that there were times when security matters dictated that that freedom be restricted. He called the Committee's attention to that only because so often when dealing with UN mechanisms, Israel was discussed in absolutist terms, with Israeli policies being uniformly criticized with no recognition or assessment of the unique challenges they faced. However, he wished to emphasize that Israel took all of the country Rapporteur's recommendations seriously, and understood his assertion that when Israel felt such restrictions were necessary, they had to be imposed with utmost care and sensitivity.
Israel did not enjoy placing limitations on the full enjoyment of human rights that constant security challenges imposed on them, Mr. Levanon said. The security fence and the checkpoints provided inconveniences and hardship to local residents, yet Israel did not have the luxury of forgetting the constant menace of suicide bombers who claimed the lives of so many of their civilians during the outbreak of violence and hostilities in the territories. Nor could they easily dismiss the statistics that clearly showed that such measures had been very effective in drastically reducing the number of suicide attacks in Israel.
While he was well aware of the controversy surrounding Israel's resort to anti-terrorist measures, Mr. Levanon asked the Committee once again to consider the context, and reminded it that Israel's Supreme Court provided a crucial and active oversight role.
Mr. Levanon wished to emphasize that Israel had never ceased to work for the peace that they profoundly believed in. Moreover, they had reached a peace, albeit partial, and today Israel had diplomatic relations with three Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania. As in the past, they stretched out their hands to their neighbours so that good-fellowship and peace would reign in the region. For that, it was necessary to have an equal partner with whom to build such a peace. All he could say at this point was that he associated himself with the call made for peace in the meeting yesterday, and that he prayed to the Almighty to give him a chance to see peace reign in the Holy Land.
Another member of the delegation, addressing the question of minority representation in the court system, noted that there had been a real increase in minority representation over the past 10 years. Out of 550 judges, 34 were members of the minority population, including 12 Muslim, 15 Christian, and 7 Druze judges.
On the issue of the Bedouins, the delegation said that of the 100,000 total Bedouin population, 62 per cent now lived in planned, low-rise towns, which corresponded to their cultural needs of the populations involved and contained a full array of social services. The remaining 38 per cent of the Bedouin population resided in hundreds of illegal clusters. The State had adopted the practice of encouraging Bedouins to move to planned towns, owing to the Government's inability to effectively provide social services to a proliferation of small, scattered communities. Currently, nine additional Bedouin towns were being built and existing towns were being expanded on land owned by the Government, at the Government's expense. That task was undertaken in constant consultation with the Bedouins, including provisions for things such as designated flock areas, or strict separation between various tribes. The Government provided incentives for those removals, providing land free of charge, and awarding compensation to the Bedouins for the structures they had abandoned to move.
On the issue of water supply, a Ministerial Committee had authorized the building of Water Centres, at great expense, to ensure water for the Bedouin populations to 2020. There were currently five such Water Centres, the delegation said.
The National Health Insurance Law adopted in 1995 guaranteed health services for all inhabitants of Israel, without distinction. Israel had made stringent efforts in particular to establish health infrastructure for Bedouin communities. Accessible care was also provided for the illegal villages via the health clinics in the planned communities. Health indicators for Bedouins were improving, and the delegation drew attention to the fact that infant mortality was even lower for Bedouins living in illegal villages than in established towns.
With respect to the territorial applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel's position had long been clear and could be accessed online on the UN treaty website. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties established that a treaty was binding on each party with respect to its entire territory. Therefore, the Convention did not appear to apply to the Territories, the delegation said. The unique status of those areas had to be considered. Over time, there had been an extensive transfer of powers and responsibilities for almost all aspects of Palestinian life to the Palestinian Authority. Today, over 95 per cent of Palestinians in the territories fell under the authority of the Palestinian Authority. In the Gaza Strip, following the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, the changes had become even more apparent. Israel could not be seen to exercise territorial jurisdiction under the context of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or the Vienna Convention.
In terms of the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the International Court had not in any way concluded that the wall had constituted an instance of discrimination, nor that it was racially discriminatory. In that regard, the delegation questioned the Committee's competence to discuss it. Furthermore, the Advisory Opinion was just that: it was advisory and not binding. Israel did not accept the International Court of Justice's authority on the subject of the wall, and neither had the Quartet. In that respect, the International Court had speculated and prejudged on areas that were within the scope of the road map. Nevertheless the Israeli Supreme Court had been asked to rule on the Advisory Opinion, and to address the issue of the legality of the routing of the security fence. In its ruling, the Israeli High Court set out its reasons for deviating from the International Court of Justice, noting that, in its opinion, the International Court had focused on the fence as a totality, without looking at its segments, and that no weight had been given to the reality of security needs. The Israeli Supreme Court held that, while it would give the full and appropriate weight to the norms of international law as elaborated in the ruling of the International Court, the Supreme Court reserved the right to judge separately whether each and every segment of the fence was legal under international law.
In terms of freedom of movement and the wall, the delegation said that distinction between a citizen and a non-citizen with regard to freedom of movement was not a form of discrimination under the Convention.
Regarding the legal regimes applicable to Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, the delegation said a Palestinian in the West Bank was subject to the law of the West Bank. An Israeli citizen or visitor in the West Bank was subject to both criminal law applicable in the West Bank and Israeli law. However, that was equally true of Arab-Israeli citizens. There was thus no discrimination.
On the question of whether there was free access to raise a complaint to the High Court of Justice, the delegation noted that the fee for considering such a complaint was approximately 300 NIS or 50 euro, but that exceptions could be granted on the basis of economic status.
Concerning the right of return and whether that discriminated between Jewish nationals and others, the delegation noted that that law was extremely limited in scope, and only figured as a criterion for granting citizenship. Moreover, that distinction took place before acquiring Israeli citizenship. Once citizenship was granted, the rights of all citizens were equal. That right or privilege did not discriminate against non-Jews or others who wished to acquire Israeli citizenship. Israel, like all other sovereign states, had the right to define its national criteria for rights to citizenship. In addition, non-Jews wishing to apply for citizenship could apply under the 1952 law, which looked at items such as birth and residence.
With respect to planning in the Arab sector, a special budget had been allocated for development and expansion of the services and buildings for the Palestinian population till 2020. There were 102 outlined plans currently in the works for Arab communities. Given the many efforts of the Government to construct housing for the Arab sector, the delegation held that there was no justification for the mass illegal building by Palestinians. Nevertheless, the number of judgements for house demolition had been largely the same for Jewish settlers and the Palestinians.
In 2006, 86,000 permits had been issued for employment of foreign workers in Israel and it had been estimated that there were between 70,000 and 80,000 illegal workers in the country. Nevertheless, Israel was determined to ensure workers' rights in all aspects. Israel was also working hard to crack down on illegal recruitment practices.
Because of time constraints, statistics on trafficking for labour were not able to be presented. However, the delegation highlighted that a new Anti-Trafficking law came into force in 2006, which established a number of criteria for illegal trafficking, including trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, slavery or trade in organs.
Regarding the Attorney General's approach to laws against racism, the delegation said that the State Attorney viewed the anti-racism laws very seriously and sought to enforce them vigorously. However, the issue of incitement involved required a balance be struck between freedom of speech and the well-being of society. Unless a red line was crossed, although some remarks might be provoking, Israel was a democratic State and freedom of speech was an important value. Each instance therefore had to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
In terms of allegations that convictions for traffic offences were systematically issued disproportionately to Arabs, the delegation cited the statistic that, from January to May 2006, approximately 9,000 tickets had been issued to Palestinians and 13,000 to Israelis.
Concerning funding for Arab, as compared with Israeli, communities, the delegation said that the government share in the budget in the Arab Sector was significantly larger than for other areas.
With regard to education, a member of the delegation held up a number of brochures in Arabic, which she wished to provide to the Committee, on issues such as tolerance and peace to educate children on human rights. Posters listing the UN Declaration on Human Rights were printed in both Hebrew and Arabic. Also available in Arabic, including Arabic Braille, was a booklet on children's rights, derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, because Israel wanted even blind children to be aware of their rights. There were also materials for teachers to inform them about Bedouin and Arabic culture and heritage. The Israeli Postal Authority had issued special stamps, in Arabic and Hebrew, containing drawings by children illustrating their rights, and some of those drawings had been made by Arabic children as well.
The State, through its education system, wished to recognize the equal rights of all, and to celebrate all the cultures of all citizens. The delegation said there were two education systems offered – State education and State religious education – and parents had the right to choose between them for their children.
Further Oral Questions Posed by Experts
Experts asked further questions on various topics, including the impact of immigration on the ethnic make up of Israel; and the Falasha, or Jewish Ethiopian population.
An Expert noted that once the now 40-year-old belligerent occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories ended there would be no need to discuss the Convention in that context.
Régis de Gouttes, in his capacity as an Expert, noted that the Israeli Supreme Court lay at the heart of Israel's law regarding the prohibition of discrimination. In that connection, he understood that the scope of the Ka'adan case (on discrimination in land rights) was limited to the facts of that case. Was there then no principle of precedent in Israel, he asked, which would allow general rules to be abstracted from particular decisions?
Replies by the Delegation
Mr. Levanon regretted that, owing to a lack of time, the delegation had not been able to present all of the information that it had hoped to, in order to demonstrate that effectively there was no discrimination in the State of Israel.
Another member, on the issue of the law of return and its effect on the make up of Israeli society, observed that Jews had immigrated to Israel from all over the globe. The Ethiopian community was a large one in Israel and it was continuing to grow. Because of that community's special cultural needs, 300 were allowed to arrive each month. There were some 7,000 Ethiopian Jews who were still awaiting approval for immigration.
Preliminary Concluding Observations
MORTEN KJAERUM, the Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Israel, thanked the delegation for conducting its dialogue with the Committee in the spirit of openness and frankness.
There was a saying in this Committee, Mr. Kjaerum said, that they had not found any region on this Earth in which discrimination could not be found. So when the delegation said there was none in Israel, he assured them that they would find it.
Mr. Kjaerum welcomed the information provided by the delegation on affirmative action plans, as well as the Government's attitude that discrimination was not acceptable. However, relying on jurisprudence of the Supreme Court according to which the principle of equality was derived from the Basic Law on dignity was not sufficient; specific legislation prohibiting discrimination was needed.
However, he had three main areas of concern. In terms of legislation, there was no specific clause prohibiting discrimination in Israeli law; rather, the Supreme Court had derived such a prohibition from the dignity of persons law. Mr. Kjaerum wished to insist that that was not adequate; specific legislation prohibiting discrimination was needed.
Mr. Kjaerum also some issues regarding direct discrimination. In terms of family reunification, was the right balance being struck between security laws and human rights, he asked?
In terms of indirect discrimination, Mr. Kjaerum said that issues such effects of the construction of the wall and of implementation of security laws needed to be looked into.
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