Question of Palestine home
10 June 1998
COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL
AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
List of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Israel concerning the rights referred to in articles 1–15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/5/Add.39)
Land and people
1. The report defines the State of Israel as an area of 10,840 square miles (para. 3), a reckoning which includes all the occupied territories. However, the population statistics provided in the report excludes some 2.5 million Palestinians living in these territories. Please explain why the report does not include a discussion on the extent to which these populations who live within the boundaries of the State of Israel, as the report so defines, enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights.
2. Please describe in specific terms the Government's programmes and strategies to give effect to its avowed commitment that "all citizens of Israel – Jews and non–Jews – are 'shareholders' in the State" and that "within the State, all citizens enjoy equal rights". In particular, please discuss the Government's efforts to instill among the youth of Israel, a spirit of tolerance and understanding, and respect for all human rights.
Status of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
3. The report states that constitutional recognition of fundamental rights in Israel can come about through case law in relation to civil rights (para. 43). Bearing in mind the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, what specific measures does the Government intend to undertake to ensure the constitutional status of economic, social and cultural rights in the absence of "limited judicial activity" relating to these rights, and in the absence of any serious attempt to "induce" the judiciary to recognize economic, social and cultural rights.
4. To what extent does the Draft Basic Law: Social Rights 1993 demonstrate "the depth of Israel's commitment to the rights covered in the present Covenant" (para. 47) when the draft document is only declaratory in nature and makes no reference to rights except in its title?
5. The report refers to Israel as "the Jewish State" but that within the State all citizens enjoy equal rights. Please discuss in clear terms how it is possible for all citizens to enjoy equality in economic, social and cultural rights, in light of the fact that an estimated 18 per cent of Israel's citizens are indigenous non–Jews.
6. What is the legal status of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund vis–à–vis the State of Israel? How does the Government ensure that the operations of these institutions, whose respective charters require them to devote their efforts to serving Jewish beneficiaries exclusively, do not infringe upon compliance of the State party with its obligations enshrined in the Covenant, in particular article 2 on non–discrimination?
7. Please provide detailed information on the recently announced Sharon–Borg plan which aims to transfer ownership of millions of dunams in northern Israel and in the Negev, where most Arabs live, from the State to the Jewish National Fund. Please clarify a statement made in the Israeli media, along with the public announcement of the Sharon–Borg plan, that one of the goals of the plan is to prevent Arabs from using the land.
8. What are the so–called "by–pass roads" and why are Palestinians forbidden to use these roads?
9. In April 1998,
referred to information from the central bureau of statistics that in February 1998, unemployment rates in Israel reached 8.3 per cent. It also stated that the number of people seeking employment increased by 6.5 per cent and that by the end of this year, unemployment will reach more than 9 per cent. How does the Government intend to reduce unemployment? What sectors of the population are more affected by unemployment? How many people are employed in part–time jobs?
10. The report acknowledges the prevailing inequality of wages between men and women. What initiatives has the Government taken to correct this imbalance in accordance with its obligations under article 7 of the Covenant?
11. It is reported that the minimum wage is not properly enforced in Israel. What steps has the Government taken to ensure strict enforcement of the minimum wage law, especially for the most vulnerable groups in the labour sector including foreign workers, Palestinians and "manpower contractor" workers?
Closure and its effects on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights
12. Please provide detailed information on closure policies, the rationale behind them and the extent to which restrictions on movements of persons, goods and services related to closure are applied equally to all sectors within the occupied territories, including the Jewish population that lives in settlements in these areas.
13. What steps is the Government taking to reunite Palestinian families who have been forcibly separated for long periods of time as a result of these closures? Please provide statistics on the number of families affected.
14. What are the effects of closures on Palestinian health services and what steps are taken by the Government to provide health care alternatives during closure? Please describe how the Government ensures that access to health care – in particular for vulnerable persons including women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities – is not impeded by the operations of military checkpoints.
15. To what extent have closures contributed to the increase in child labour? How does the Government intend to address this problem in accordance with its obligations in the Covenant under article 10?
16. In March 1998, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 reported to the Commission on Human Rights that the lack of income brought about by closures had left families unable to buy food, resulting in malnourishment, particularly of children. In addition, provisions become scarce and expensive during closures and there is no access to markets and farmlands outside of the villages. What alternatives does the Government offer during times of closure to ensure the protection of right to food of residents of the occupied territories?
Permanent Residency Law
17. Please discuss in detail the Permanent Residency Law and in particular the concept of "centre of life". Please include a discussion of identity cards and the basis for their confiscation, a description of the policies under which the residency status of residents of Jerusalem can be revoked, the range of discretion allowed to those who implement these policies, and the legal means of redress for those who challenge the revocation of their residency. How does the Government assist residents of Jerusalem who are forced to leave their homes and their employment when their residency status is revoked? What are the other consequences of losing residency status? How can persons who have lost their residency status in Jerusalem be reinstated?
18. Why are Palestinian Jerusalemites who were abroad at the time of the 1967 census after the war forbidden to return to their homes and their families?
Land use and housing
19. What is the role of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund in the planning and financing of land use and housing within Israel and the occupied territories?
20. Since the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem, how much land has been expropriated from Palestinians and made available exclusively for Jewish housing? What is the legal basis for expropriation of land in Israel?
21. Statistics provided by an Israeli non–governmental organization (NGO) show that in the years 1993 to 1997, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Interior Ministry issued 147 demolition orders and carried out 56 demolitions in West Jerusalem. In the same period, the same governmental agencies issued 322 demolition orders and carried out 128 in East Jerusalem, displacing an unknown number of families, among them women, children and the elderly. Another NGO has reported that during 1997, more than 114 Jahalin Bedouin families were forcibly evicted from their homes and campsites to make way for the expansion of the Ma'aleh Adumim and Kedar settlements which were built on land confiscated from the Palestinian villages of Ezariyeh (Bethany) and Abu Dis. How does the Government reconcile such practices with its obligations under article 11 of the Covenant?
22. Please explain why the terms and conditions on rental agreements imposed on Arab tenants by Government–controlled housing corporations in the mixed cities make it illegal to conduct repairs or renovations without permits from these corporations when it is almost impossible to obtain such permits, which often take years to process? This situation has resulted in the deterioration of Arab neighbourhoods into virtual slums. What is the extent of government supervision over the operations of these housing corporations?
23. How does the Absentee Property Law of 1950 work? Who are the "present absentees" and how many are they?
24. Please explain why the Ronen Committee, which was established to introduce reform in respect of land ownership in Israel, has neglected the interests and needs of the Palestinian Arab community, in particular the chronic shortage of land in Arab towns, their narrow confines of jurisdiction, the consequent lack of space for residential, agricultural and industrial uses, and their increasing "ghettoization" as a consequence of such neglect.
25. What is the legal basis for the continuing demolition of dwellings in Israel? In this regard, how does the Government view the extent of its obligations under the Covenant on the right to adequate housing within its territory?
26. Please explain the rationale behind the policy being implemented with regard to unrecognized villages, which have been in existence even before the State of Israel, including the prohibition of all types of construction including houses, schools, mosques, roads, and even repairs to existing structures in these villages. Why are residents of these villages not allowed to plant fruits and vegetables and why are they denied basic utilities such as water and electricity? What are the measures undertaken by the Government to provide access to food supply, health care and education for the residents of these villages, among them women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and persons requiring medical treatment for varied illnesses?
27. Please provide detailed information as to how the Regional Master Plan for the Northern District of Israel, designed by the Israeli Ministry of Interior for the Galilee region, addresses the problems of the Arab towns and villages in the Northern District. In particular, what are its provisions with regard to the existence of unrecognized Arab villages, the lack of basic social services such as health and education, the low economic base within all Arab communities, the lack of basic infrastructure in the Arab villages and the wide gaps between Arab and Jewish settlements in the region.
28. What is the reason for the delay in implementing the former Government's decision granting recognition to seven of the unrecognized villages in the north? Please provide updated and detailed information on the Government's plans for implementing this decision.
29. The report states that Bedouin settlements do not fit in the Government's urban and rural planning. Since the Bedouins have been occupying their traditional lands over many centuries before the State of Israel was established, why did the Government not fit them into national and regional planning schemes beforehand?
30. Information received by the Committee states that the Government's position regarding the use of Bedouin land is that the Government will satisfy ownership claims only if the Bedouin agree to give up 80 per cent of their traditional lands, and that 750,000 dunams of land are currently being negotiated by the Land Settlements Department which has been created specifically to solve the dispute. What does the Government plan to do with these lands?
Education and culture
31. Please describe in more detail the application of Hebrew and Arabic as official languages in non–formal settings. For example, what percentage of public signposts and directional road and traffic signs in urban and rural areas are written in both Hebrew and Arabic?
32. What educational measures are being implemented to promote, enhance and strengthen the feeling of a collective Palestinian identity among the Israeli Arabs of Israel? In the educational curriculum currently in place, to what extent can Palestinian students learn about their identity and heritage?
33. Please provide detailed information on the efforts the Government has taken to integrate Israeli Arabs into mainstream public life in Israel.
34. Edva Center statistics show that there are especially low levels of eligibility for matriculation certificates within the Jewish sectors in development towns. This situation is due partly to the fact that in the development towns in the Jewish sector, where residents are mostly from three groups – those of Asian–African origin, immigrants from Ethiopia and immigrants from the Asian republics of the CIS – many students study in vocational tracks, unlike the richer cities where there are more academic high schools and tracks. According to the report of the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews, the number of students from this group who are eligible for matriculation certificates is also very low. What is the Government intending to do to reduce these gaps in education and to increase the number of those eligible for matriculation certificates in poor neighbourhoods, development towns and in the Arab sector?
Women and children
35. What is the incidence of domestic violence in Israel? What measures are in place to combat the high rate of sexual crimes against women?
36. What progress has been made on the bill being drafted by the Office of the Prime Minister to establish an Authority for the Status of Women?
37. What measures have been taken by the Israeli Government to encourage Israeli Arab women's representation in elected or appointed positions?
38. What measures has the Government undertaken to address the problem of poverty among women and children as stated in the report (para. 415)?
39. Please provide statistics for the past five years, disaggregated by gender, on the following categories: those who have derived benefits from the Israeli Employment Service; post–secondary–level vocational education in each field of study; the 130,000 adults studying under Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs programmes; the 12,500 youngsters aged 15 to 18 also sponsored by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
40. What difficulties and disputes have been encountered in the application of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law 1988 (paras. 112–117)? In the past five years, how many cases invoking this law have actually been filed?
41. What health services are being provided to the Bedouins in the Government–provided "temporary" homes, which are actually closed steel container vans without ventilation which are like ovens in summer and freezers in winter? Please provide information on the incidence of health problems in these communities especially among the women and children.
42. What is the incidence of substance abuse, suicide and HIV/AIDS in Israel? Please provide disaggregated statistics.
43. What measures are in place to address the "environmental factors" such as infectious diseases and accidents which are reportedly the reasons for the relatively high rates of mortality in the post–neonatal period among non–Jews, as stated in the report (para. 561)? Who are the non–Jews referred to?
44. Why are foreign workers excluded from the national health insurance?