Israel's 4th Review in the Committee on...
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. On 3 October 2019, it was the fourth Periodic Review of the State of Israel and in brief, here are the questions and concerns of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights :
- Israel had to refrain from any action that would infringe on Palestinians’ right to development and it also had to foster such development. If the State of Israel did not have human rights obligations in the occupied Palestinian territories, a territory which it was occupying and over which it exercised effective control, then who did?
- Experts asked how the Government would ensure that the Basic Law: Israel– Nation State of the Jewish People would not legitimize discrimination against non-Jewish segments of the population. They requested information on the impact of restrictions on movement imposed on Palestinians’ on the enjoyment of family life, health and cultural and religious affairs.
- Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Israel, said “the Israeli budget allocated shrinking amounts to address social needs. Why was public expenditure on social benefits decreasing from one year to the other?”
- He requested information on the status of the Arabic language. There were fears that the focus on the Hebrew language and Jewish culture would negatively impact on about 20 per cent of the population.
- Why was the Arab language downgraded from official language to special status language? The annual budget for the High Institute for the Arabic Language was just 1.45 million new Israeli shekels or 402,800 dollars for the year 2019. It appeared to be a modest figure given that the Arabic population of Israel, was about 1.5 million people or around 20 per cent of the total population. Could this be explained?
- Turning to refugees and asylum seekers, there were a very large number of people who were denied access to various services because they were asylum seekers.
- The child mortality rate stood at 2 per 1,000 births for the Jewish population, 6 per 1,000 births for the Arab population and 11 per 1,000 births for the Bedouins.
- Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Israel, asked why there was such a high and disproportionate rate of dropouts among Bedouin students in comparison to the general public, and such large gaps in the educational achievements between Arab students in comparison to Jewish students.
- There was a shortage of school facilities in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Over a third of Palestinian communities did not have primary schools. Children were forced to travel long distances, and attend schools in shacks and temporary structures, without heating or air conditioning.
- Around 48 Palestinian schools across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, had pending “stop work” or demolition orders due to lack of building permits, which reportedly were extremely difficult to obtain from Israeli authorities. Another 44 schools were at risk of demolition. Several government-run schools in Gaza had been damaged and the ban in 2014 on students from Gaza accessing education in the West Bank also had adversely affected their right to education.
- Residents of Gaza who sought to travel to holy sites in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remain banned from doing so under Israel’s current closure policy. Reportedly, restrictions on the freedom of movement continued to pose challenges for other communities to access historical and religious sites, including the al Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Nativity Church, and the Bilal Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.