Israel’s housing policies in occupied Palestinian territory amount to racial segregation – UN experts

Settlement Caravan (APA)

UN Office of the High Commissioner  /  April 27, 2022

Geneva – Israel’s housing policies in East Jerusalem amount to racial segregation and discrimination against the Palestinian people, and a violation of their human rights, UN experts* said today.

Based on reports received, the experts said Palestinians in the territory have been subject to discriminatory zoning and planning regimes that restrict access to housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, and other essential services, including healthcare and educational facilities.

“The discriminatory zoning and planning regime in East Jerusalem, which prioritizes zoning for Israeli settlements and limits housing options for Palestinians, clearly amounts to segregation on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin,” the experts said.

“Racially segregated settlements have had significant and lasting consequences on the standards of living of the Palestinian people,” they stressed, calling attention to the detrimental effect of the measures on Palestinians and Bedouin communities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

report to the Human Rights Council in March said Israel’s 55-year occupation of the Palestinian territory constitutes apartheid. The UN experts echoed the findings of the report and urged the Israeli Government to comply with international human rights and humanitarian law, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

They expressed alarm about reports that Palestinian protests over the establishment of the “Evyatar” outpost and Israel’s exclusive control over the distribution of public spaces and basic resources have allegedly been met with disproportionate violence and systematic suppression by the Israeli Defence Forces.

“We have received reports that protesters have been subjected to indiscriminate and excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and collective punishment. At least six Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces or Israel settlers while protesting the establishment of the settlement,” they said.

The UN experts urged the international community to conduct independent investigations into the conduct of military and law enforcement operations, in order to end the occupying power’s ongoing impunity for excessive use of force against Palestinians in the context of protests, search-and-arrest operations, and at checkpoints.

“Peaceful assemblies should only be dispersed in exceptional cases, and subject to strict requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality,” they said.

Concerns about Israel’s demolition of infrastructure in the West Bank have also been the subject of the Human Rights Committee’s review of Israel’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee has called for review and reform of the planning and zoning regime in the region.

“Israel, as the internationally-recognized occupying power of the Palestinian territory, has significant obligations under international human rights law, which it has repeatedly violated.” the experts said. They urged the international community to adopt a robust menu of accountability measures to swiftly end the occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination.

The UN experts have been in official communication with the Israeli Government to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.

*  The UN experts: Ms E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Mr Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Mr Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967; Mr Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.