Adalah center issues report on Israel's treatment of Arab minority

By Toav Stern

Haaretz

Shvat 27, 5767

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has presented the United Nations with a highly critical report on Israel's treatment of its Arab citizens.

The report was presented on February 1 in preparation for United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination discussions in Geneva next week, in which 18 jurists from around the world are set to participate.

Adalah's appeal is part of a wider effort by Arab organizations to internationalize the discussion around the relationship between Israel and its Arab citizens. Adalah expects the report to serve as a basis for the committee's discussion and thus create intentional pressure on Israel to change its policies.

The report outlines several issues that Adalah claims are in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), on which Israel is a signatory.

One of the report's claims is that Israel enacts laws and enters into agreements with institutions such as the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) that exclusively allocate land to Jews.

The report also claims that laws conditioning certain social and financial benefits on a military service discriminate against most of Israel Arab population.

An additional issue presented by the report is Israeli legislation allowing severe interrogation methods against detainees suspected of security offences, most of who are Arabs.

The report also claims the people responsible for the deaths of 13 Arabs from Israel Police fire during the events of October 2000 were not put on trial.

Further claims in the report are that Israel prevents its Arab citizens from marrying Palestinian partners if they wish to reside in Israel; the state exercises extreme discrimination in the budgets it allots Arab towns; Arab citizens have been evacuated from their Negev homes under the claim that the homes were illegal; standards for accepting Arab students into higher-education institutions are discriminatory; state laws give official status to Jewish cultural institutions, but not to Arab ones; and the government has not issued any amendments to address the protection of Muslim and Christian holy sites.

The ICERD, drafted in 1966, was one of the first human rights treaties to be adopted by the UN. There are 173 signed states, including Israel, which ratified the ICERD in 1979. The convention commits member states to amend or cancel national laws and policies that create or perpetuate any form of racial discrimination.