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Palestinians file complaint to UN over Israel violation of anti-racism convention

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian man [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

Palestinians have filed a complaint to the UN against Israel for numerous violations including breaches of its obligations under international anti-racism treaty.

The move, which is likely to trigger a lengthy and high-profile investigation by world bodies monitoring racism and discrimination, was handed to the UN  by the Palestinian ambassador to the international organisation, Ibrahim Khraishi, to the body that monitors the implementation of the UN convention against racism.

In the 350 page document seen by the Guardian, which accuses Israel of establishing an apartheid regime, Palestinians say that Israel is implementing policies that have “the common aim of displacing and replacing the Palestinian people for the purpose of maintaining a colonial occupation”.

Palestinians list a number of Israeli violations in the occupied territories and accuse Israel of seeking to maintain “a Jewish demographic majority in the entirety of historic Palestine”.

“Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights,” the report says.

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The complaint sent to the UN is over violations of the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Israel has ratified the convention and Palestinians, who were granted UN observer status in 2014, filed the complaint which is believed to be the first interstate complaint filed under the treaty.

The convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of 18 independent experts that is now tasked with assessing the complaint. Israel will now be required to submit written explanations within three months, including any remedies it has taken. The committee could then move to investigate the claims.

According to Ammar Hijazi, from the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs, the complaint “does not reach the level of a court order.” Hijazi added that the finding that Israel had breached the treaty would oblige other signatories to the convention, which include the US, to “ensure that such practices are not continued”, reported the Guardian.

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In their list of complaints Palestinians say that they are severely limited in their freedom of movement compared to Israeli settlers and are subject to “confiscation and seizure” of their land, including home demolitions.

In addition to the violations relating to the right to equal treatment under the law, Palestinians claim that Israel is in breach of article 3 of the convention, which prohibits racial segregation and apartheid. “It is clear that Israel’s acts are part of a widespread and oppressive regime that is institutionalised and systematic; that accords separate and unequal treatment to Palestinians,” the summary says, calling for the dismantling of all existing Israeli settlements.

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