Israel: The applicability of the ICCPR to occupied Palestinian territory is again a main concern of the Israel review
Overview 112th Session – Israel
The Human Rights Committee reviewed the 4th ICCPR report of Israel on 20th October 2014. After pointing out the huge gap between the State’s report and the NGOs’ submissions, the Committee raised the issue of the lack of a definition of torture in the national legislation and asked for clarification on the justification of torture with the defence of “necessity”.
Special attention was paid to the restrictions on the right to liberty and security, freedom of movement, right to self-determination and the inhuman and degrading treatment, referring mostly to the Palestinian people. The Committee also stressed the barriers faced by Palestinians and Bedouins in accessing natural resources and essential services, such as water, sanitation, land, electricity, adequate housing, health care and education.
Another issue was related to the principle of equality and non-discrimination, with a special focus on Arab women and the segregation of women in public places. In addition, concerns about family reunification, juvenile justice and the detention of children, administrative detention, punitive demolition of houses and also Sudanese and Eritrean refugees were also mentioned. Israel tried to insist that ICCPR implementation did not extend to Palestinian territories under its control, which was not accepted by the Committee.
In response to some of the Committee’s questions, the State party insisted on a lack of obligation on their part to address those issues. They insisted that the security fence is only a temporary security measure in response to the terrorist attacks. The State delegation also claimed that the Gaza Strip is not under its control and that it has no welfare duty towards the Gazan population. The Israeli delegation also made clear that with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian provisional agreement, they felt that they had exceeded their obligations for water provisions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Committee let the State party know that by Israel not allowing women to divorce without their husband’s permission, this was a discrimination and a violation of the ICCPR. In response, the State delegation explained that the Jewish law requires the consent of both parties in divorce.
The State delegation confirmed that Israel was exploring the possibility of adhering to the 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant, allowing individuals to bring cases to the Committee, but not the 2nd Protocol on the abolition of death penalty.
The Concluding Observations (recommendations) were released on the 30th October 2014.
Four issues were selected for the follow-up procedure:
1) Punitive demolitions, planning and zoning regime in the West Bank and displacement of Bedouins
2) Ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip
3) Torture and ill-treatment
4) Juvenile criminal justice system
The review of Israel’s 4th periodic report by the Human Rights Committee took place on the 20th October 2014. For a comprehensive overview of the discussion, see the proceedings on the OHCHR website or the webcast of the session.
Israel is expected to provide information on the measures taken to address these issues by October 2015.
The next report is due for the 31st October 2018. This four-year deadline represents a slight improvement compared with the three-year deadline given by the Committee in 2010.