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UN anti-racism committee slams Israel's 'discriminatory legislation', 'segregation'

Palestinian worshipers wait at the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah into Jerusalem on 1 June 2018 [ssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a Geneva-based independent body, has published damning concluding observations following Israel's periodic review, highlighting "discriminatory legislation" and "segregation" on both sides of the Green Line.

The Committee monitors States parties' adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and is made up of 18 independent human rights experts. Concluding observations constitute an assessment of a state's compliance with their human rights obligations.

Summarising Israel's review, the Committee expressed concern "about existing discriminatory legislation, the segregation of Israeli society into Jewish and non-Jewish sectors, and the tide of racist public hate speech targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and migrants and asylum-seekers of African origin".

The full concluding observations are a sobering insight into the levels of institutionalised discrimination and human rights violations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, with the panel flagging up concerns with respect to policies and legislation across a wide range of issues.

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The Committee pointed out "several laws which discriminate against Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and create differences among them, as regards their civil status, legal protection, access to social and economic benefits, or right to land and property", and also singled out the "the discriminatory effect" of the Jewish Nation-State Law.

The Committee also reiterated concerns expressed in previous reviews, that "Israeli society continues to be segregated as it maintains Jewish and non-Jewish sectors, including two systems of education with unequal conditions, as well as separate municipalities, namely Jewish municipalities and the so-called 'municipalities of the minorities'."

In the occupied Palestinian territory specifically, the Committee stressed the continuation of "policies and practices which amount to segregation, such as the existence…of two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for Jewish communities in illegal settlements on the one hand and Palestinian populations living in  Palestinian towns and villages on the other hand".

The experts added that they were "appalled at the hermetic character of the separation of the two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services, lands and water resources."

As part of its concluding observations, the Committee drew Israel's attention to the "the prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid", and urged Israel to "eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities and any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population in Israel proper and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory".

READ: Israel delegation heads to UAE for UN conference

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