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UN body to Israel: Address key issues regarding Bedouin citizens, discrimination against non-Jews

01.04.2019

CESCR releases detailed list obliging Israel to address critical issues regarding Bedouin and Jewish Nation-State Law based on subjects highlighted in joint Adalah-NCF report
 
 
 A joint statement from NCF and Adalah 
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) released late last week a list of key issues relating to Bedouin citizens of Israel in the Negev/Naqab region and discrimination against non-Jewish citizens to which the State of Israel is obligated to respond.
 
Israel ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – a key human rights treaty – in 1991 and is therefore obligated to abide by the covenant. In January 2019, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) submitted a joint report to CESCR focusing on Israel’s lack of compliance with the ICESCR regarding Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab/Negev, including the implications of the Jewish Nation-State Law on land and housing in the area. The report included a list of key issues for the committee’s consideration including: (1) Israel’s failure to systematically collect specific data on the Bedouin; (2) the staggering high incidence of poverty, three times more than Jewish Israelis; (3) forced evictions, home demolitions and planning mechanisms to dispossess the Bedouin from their land; (4) the denial of access to safe drinking water and the lack of adequate sanitation; (5) the inadequate investment in education; and (6) the severe obstacles to employment for Arab Bedouin Women.
 
In follow-up, Adalah Attorney Mysanna Morany and NCF representative Amir Abo Qweder gave presentations to the pre-sessional Working Group of the Committee in Geneva earlier this month 2019 on the issues raised in the joint report.
 
This past Thursday, 28 March 2019, the CESCR released its detailed List of Issues, obliging Israel to address critical issues based on subjects highlighted in the joint Adalah-NCF report at the Committee’s review session on Israel in October 2019.
 
Forced displacement of Bedouin citizens 
 
The Committee asked Israel to provide information on:
Steps taken to fully respect rights of the Arab-Bedouin people to their traditional and ancestral lands; Impacts of measures taken to ensure the Bedouin population continue their traditional semi-nomadic way of life and enjoy their traditional culture; and to recognize the Bedouin population as an indigenous people; Impacts of the measures taken to implement the Five-Year Plan for the empowerment and Socio-Economic Strengthening of the Bedouin Localities in the Negev for the Years 2017-2021 in line with the Committee’s General Comments No. 4 on the right to adequate housing and No. 7 (1997) on forced evictions; Measures taken to ensure the meaningful participation of the Bedouin people and to seek their free prior and informed consent in planning and implementing all development policies and plans affecting them.
 
Bedouin citizens of Israel
 
The Committee asked Israel to provide information on:
Impacts of measures taken to alleviate the disproportionately high incidence of poverty among the Bedouin population in the Negev/Naqab; Steps taken to further regularize unrecognized villages and improve living conditions therein; Measures taken to ensure all Bedouin villages, recognized or unrecognized, have access to public transportation; Steps taken to improve data collection relating to the Bedouin population and provide statistical data relating to their enjoyment of the Covenant rights, disaggregated by sex, disability and locality. This includes their numbers, employment, unemployment and under-employment rates, coverage and take-up rates of social security benefits, and access to education, healthcare services, water, sanitation facilities, electricity, public transportation and other public services.

Adequate standard of living 

The Committee asked Israel to provide information on the measures taken to mitigate the negative impact of privatization of social services on the enjoyment of the Covenant rights, particularly by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including: To regulate the exorbitant price for water provided by private providers in the unrecognized Bedouin villages; To improve sanitation facilities and the waste management system in the Bedouin communities, including the implementation of the Government Resolution No. 546.

Jewish Nation-State Law & discrimination

The Committee asked Israel to provide information on:<Measures taken or envisaged to explicitly guarantee the principle of equality and the prohibition of non-discrimination in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and to review legislation with a view to remove discriminatory provisions, particularly those against the non-Jewish population. Assessments, if any, which Israel carried out on impact of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People on the non-Jewish population and on their enjoyment of the Covenant rights, particularly the right to self-determination, right to non-discrimination and cultural rights. Concerns raised regarding the Law that it may exacerbate the existing ethnic segregation and lead to policies and budget allocation that may further disadvantage the non-Jewish population. Please further provide updated information on the case brought before the Supreme Court arguing the constitutionality of this law.

Right to education

The Committee asked Israel to provide information on:                                                                      Impact of measures taken to address high incidence of school dropout and low level of academic achievement among Arab and Bedouin students; Measures taken, and their impact, to ensure that all children, including Arab and Bedouin children, benefit from free early childhood education, and the enrollment rates of these groups of children.

NCF responds

“NCF welcomes the Committee’s List of Issues. The time has come for the State of Israel to cease using mechanisms of intimidation and dispossession against its own citizens and recognize the Bedouin’s ancestral right to the land.”

Adalah responds

“We are happy to have convinced the Committee to focus on the forced displacement of the Bedouin community as one of the key concerns requiring further clarification from Israel. “Although the Prawer Plan for mass displacement of the Bedouin was frozen in 2013, Israel is now using other mechanisms to forcefully displace Bedouin communities. The past two years, for example, have seen a huge increase in Israeli demolitions of Bedouin homes due to the new Kaminitz Law. Israel has also just revealed a plan to forcefully displace 36,000 Bedouin citizens to make way for massive ‘development’ projects to be built on top of their homes and villages. All these practices are expected to receive backing from the Jewish Nation-State Law.”

CLICK HERE to read the Committee’s List of Issues to Israel

CLICK HERE to read the State of Israel’s report to the CESCR Committee

CLICK HERE to read the joint Adalah-NCF report

This press release is part of a project funded by the European Union. The contents are the sole responsibility of Adalah and NCF and should not be regarded under any circumstances as reflecting the positions of the European Union.

Demolitions

27-06-19 - for the 144 timeal-ʿArāgīb, an unrecognized Bedouin village west of Route 40 - The entire village was demolished

15-06-19 - az-Zarnūg, an unrecognized Bedouin village near Segev Shalom- One house was demolished

All Demolitions