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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 1599th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 14 August 2003, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. DIACONU
PREVENTION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, INCLUDING EARLY WARNING MEASURES AND URGENT ACTION PROCEDURES (continued)
Draft Decision 2 (63) ( continued) (CERD/C/63/Misc.11)
49. The CHAIRMAN drew the Committee’s attention to Draft Decision 2 (63) concerning Israel’s Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) and the letter dated 14 August 2003 from the Permanent Mission of Israel addressed to the Chairman of the Committee. He recalled that the Human Rights Committee, in its concluding observations regarding the second periodic report of Israel, had expressed concern about that same measure (CCPR/CO/78/ISR, para. 21).
50. Mr. ABOUL-NASR said that Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories had repeatedly been condemned by the international community. He felt that the Committee should express its concern about this new discriminatory measure and he had therefore prepared Draft Decision 2 (63), which echoed almost word-for-word the relevant paragraph of the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee regarding the second periodic report of Israel, which had been adopted by consensus.
51. Mr. BOSSUYT regretted the Israeli action, which from a political point of view would certainly do nothing to improve the situation. From a juridical point of view, he said that the right to family reunification was not a right guaranteed by international instruments. However, singling out persons residing in the West Bank and in Gaza would appear to be discriminatory, thereby falling under the mandate of the Committee. Referring to the letter dated August 2003 from the Permanent Mission of Israel addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, he said he would welcome more information on the number of incidents in which spouses had abused their status to engage in terrorist attacks.
52. The language of the draft decision was moderate and reflected the comments of the Human Rights Committee. He wished to suggest, however, that in paragraph 1, first sentence, the word “subjective” should be replaced with “discretionary”, which would allow the authorities to permit exceptions. In the second sentence, given the lack of statistics on the number of individuals affected, the words “thousands of” should be replaced with “many”. Finally, in the second paragraph, second sentence, in order to stress the discriminatory nature of the law and justify the Committee’s interest, the words “facilitating family reunification of all citizens and permanent residents” should be replaced with “not excluding persons residing in one particular region from family unification in Israel”. It was better to refer to unification because it was new families which were being created and not existing families which were being reunified.
53. Mr. THORNBERRY proposed that the words “West Bank and in Gaza” in the penultimate sentence of the first paragraph should be replaced by “West Bank or Gaza”. In the second paragraph, the words “revoke this law and” should be inserted after the words “The State party should” at the beginning of the second sentence.
54. Mr. BOSSUYT , adding to his earlier suggestions, said that in the second paragraph the words “on a non-discriminatory basis” should be inserted after “ permanent residents”.
55. Mr. PILLAI said that the text should emphasize the highly discriminatory nature of the Order, which applied only to certain categories of spouses.
56. The CHAIRMAN said that that concern had been addressed by the reference in the second paragraph to the fact that the Order raised serious issues under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
57. Mr. BOSSUYT pointed out that, while he agreed that family reunification, where provided for, should be on a non-discriminatory basis, not all countries provided for the reunification of the families of all of their citizens and permanent residents.
58. Mr. de GOUTTES , joined by Mr. YUTZIS and Mr. BOSSUYT , agreed that the Committee’s decision should stress the discriminatory nature of the Order.
59. Mr. HERNDL said that the Committee should take into account the fact that the Order was still being reviewed by Israel’s highest judicial instance, the Supreme Court sitting as High Court of Justice, and that the domestic internal proceedings had not yet been exhausted.
60. The CHAIRMAN reminded the Committee that its decision was being taken under its urgent action procedures and that the Supreme Court might even find the decision helpful to its own consideration of the case.
61. Mr. ABOUL-NASR observed that the Order was already being enforced and that it clearly discriminated on the basis of race, since Israeli settlers in the West Bank or Gaza would presumably not be affected.
62. Mr. BOSSUYT questioned whether the reunification of families was a fundamental human right. However, where such rights were recognized, they should be enjoyed on a non-discriminatory basis. He reiterated that it would be more accurate to use the term “unification”, since the families would not have been together previously.
63. Mr. YUTZIS said that Mr. Bossuyt had introduced an important nuance, which should be reflected in the draft text.
64. Mr. KJAERUM said that the reference to “all citizens and permanent residents” in the second paragraph was unnecessarily restrictive and should be deleted.
65. Mr. THORNBERRY said that, taking into account the drafting changes that had been agreed on, the draft decision should read as follows:
“The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) raises serious issues under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The State party should revoke this law and reconsider its policy with a view to facilitating family unification on a non-discriminatory basis. It should provide detailed information on this issue in its next periodic report.”
67. The CHAIRMAN said that the text of the decision would be released to the press and transmitted to the Permanent Mission of Israel.