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Anti-semitism and situation of Roma and people of African descent raised by experts as the Committee on Raciel Discrimination examines the report of the State of Palestine

14 August 2019 - Anti-Semitism and the situation of Roma and people of African descent were among issues raised by Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as it considered the combined initial and second periodic report of the State of Palestine on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Committee Experts raised questions on allegedly discriminatory content, such as racist and anti-Semitic language, in education materials used in the State party.  They also asked about how Jewish and Roma minorities, as well as people of African descent, were represented in the Palestinian media? 

Ammar Hijazi, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, said some individuals were trying to conflate legitimate criticism of Israel and its occupation, and anti-Semitism.  As a point of principle, the State of Palestine rejected and combatted all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.  The Palestinian delegation said the Ministry of Health provided support and created mobile clinics in the towns and areas where Roma, Bedouins and Afro descendants lived.  The occupying power had hindered the provision of services in some areas. 

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories was repeatedly highlighted in the discussion.  Mr. Hijazi said Palestine’s land was under Israel’s prolonged colonial and racist occupation, adding that the dialogue today did not exempt Israel, the continuing occupying power, from assuming its legal responsibilities in accordance with international law, including the Convention.  Israel’s colonial expansionist system was based on religious and racial superiority, which included the expansion of settlements, the wall of separation, the forced displacement of Palestinians, and the domination of natural resources through a series of illegal practices. 

A Committee Expert remarked that parts of the Palestinian territories were occupied by Israel and this created specific and serious issues vis-a-vis the Convention.  There were, however, territories that were not occupied by Israel.  It was therefore surprising that there was a wealth of information on the territories on which the Palestinian authorities had no effective jurisdiction, and very little information on their own practices in the other territories. 

Committee Experts commended the State of Palestine for submitting a detailed report and appreciated the submissions of the national Commission for Human Rights and non-governmental organizations.  They asked the Government of the State of Palestine to provide up-to-date data on the demographic composition of the population in the whole of the State party’s territory, disaggregated by race, ethnic or national origin.  Were there measures that could be taken to create accurate or comprehensive statistics on the groups protected under the Convention at the national level? 

In her concluding remarks, Chinsung Chung, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur for the State of Palestine, thanked the delegation for its sincere answers, which had helped the Committee to better understand the situation.  She suggested that the State of Palestine undertake serious reforms in its political system.  The Palestine Legislative Council should be reconvened, democratic elections should be held, and reconciliation with Hamas should be achieved urgently.

Ibrahim Khraishi, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for its questions and recalled that this was the first report of the State of Palestine.  It was the first time that this Committee was hearing a report from a country that was under occupation.  The delegation had come here to speak about its concerns, seeking the Committee’s guidance and help.  As a people under occupation, the Palestinians had the right to use all tools to end this occupation.  

Mr. Hijazi said the State of Palestine looked forward to its continued collaboration with all partners to achieve the goals set out by the Palestinian people and reflected in the commitment of the State of Palestine to the Convention, that was to ensure that the society was free from all forms of discrimination.  He thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue.

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and said that today it had shown that Palestine wanted peace, justice and liberty. 

The delegation of the State of Palestine consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, the Higher Presidential Committee of Church Affairs, the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Labour, the Sharia High Judicial Council, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the High Judicial Council, and the Permanent Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 14 August at 3 p.m. to consider the combined twenty-first to twenty-third periodic report of Iceland (CERD/C/ISL/21-23)

Report

The Committee has before it the combined initial and second periodic report of the State of Palestine (CERD/C/PSE/1-2).

Presentation of the Report

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, said that the report gave an account of the main achievements as well as of the challenges faced in the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the State of Palestine.  This dialogue would contribute to implementing the provisions of the Convention, thus safeguarding the rights of Palestinians so that they may enjoy them all without exception, as well as help the State of Palestine to assume its responsibilities at the international level.  

Palestine’s land was under Israel’s prolonged colonial and racist occupation, which disregarded international humanity and its commitments as the occupying power in accordance to international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  Many attempts had been made to obliterate the Palestinian identity in the past 72 years.  Millions of refugees were still prevented from returning to their homes, from which they had been uprooted.  The dialogue today did not exempt Israel, the continuing occupying power, from assuming its legal responsibilities in accordance with international law, including the Convention, nor did it extinguish its responsibility and accountability for the violations perpetrated against the Palestinian people.  Mr. Hijazi reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people, wherever they may be, to enjoy the rights enshrined in the Convention, which were inalienable, including the rights to self-determination, national independence, sovereignty and the right of refugees to return to their homeland.  

The declaration of independence of the State of Palestine, adopted by the National Council in 1988, was a legislative starting point for Palestine, stipulating that Palestine was for Palestinians wherever they may be.  In the State of Palestine, the Constitution guaranteed the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.  The State of Palestine was fully committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations.  The Government had cemented the rights contained in international instruments based on a vision that the Palestinians had the right to enjoy them all, despite having been deprived of them for decades.  The Government had notably acceded to the Second Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, and the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery.  The Government had also put in operation an individual complaints procedure as per article 14 of the Convention. The independent Commission for Human Rights followed-up on such complaints.  The Government had also ratified the amendment to article 8 of the Convention to strengthen the Committee’s work in addressing discriminatory practices.  

Mr. Hijazi said that the report had been prepared by a governmental committee comprised of relevant governmental entities in cooperation with relevant representatives of civil society and ethnic and racial minority groups.  Consultations had been organized by video conference with representatives of civil society in the Gaza Strip, who had been denied passage by Israeli occupation forces to the West Bank.  There was an organic relationship between foreign occupation and discrimination and apartheid.  The occupation was in total contravention of the United Nations, its Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two Covenants, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, amongst others.  This occupation was also in complete contravention of resolutions of the Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.  Furthermore, the fact that Israel had built a wall of separation seriously hampered the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination -- a right which was erga omnes according the International Court of Justice.  

Despite the fact that the State of Palestine was committed to international law, the human rights situation had been deteriorating, as Israel disregarded international humanitarian law and the Convention.  This was most visible in the colonial expansionist system based on religious and racial superiority, which included the expansion of settlements, the wall of separation, the forced displacement of Palestinians, and Israel’s domination of natural resources through a series of illegal practices.  Israel today detained around 6,000 Palestinians, who were subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.  It also upheld measures impeding the mobility of Palestinians, destroyed Palestinian houses and held forced evacuations.  The laws implemented by the occupying power led to apartheid, discrimination and oppression of the Palestinian people.  Israel aimed at imposing colonial occupation and punishment to push Palestinians to leave by force.  Israeli authorities continued to adopt racist legislation against the Palestinian people, including a recent law called Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

Israel, the occupying power, refused to implement the Convention in the occupied territories.  The actions of Israel flouted the provisions of the Convention.  The State of Palestine had submitted a report on the crimes committed by the occupying power to the International Criminal Court.  Nationally, the Government had acted to harmonize its domestic laws to allow citizens to file for remedy.  With regard to general recommendation 32, the Government had launched a survey on discrimination.  According to that survey, 18.2 per cent of the population had been subjected to discrimination.  Political ground was the main reported cause of discrimination.  

The State of Palestine welcomed the Committee’s efforts and would do its best to create an environment conducive to the respect of human rights.

The Commission for Human Rights of the State of Palestine said the systematic obliteration of justice was occurring in the country, as it had been for decades.  The national Commission for Human Rights njoyed status A according to the Paris Principles.  It was competent to promote and protect human rights, as well as monitor them closely.  It had partnerships with civil society and governmental organizations.  It was constantly abreast of what was happening in the country and cooperated very effectively with all bodies concerned with human rights.

The occupation led to the implementation of discriminatory policies amounting to apartheid.  It was important to take note of the pace of the creation of settlements, the blockade against Gaza and the destruction of homes.  It was important for people in the State of Palestine to have access to justice and be able to file complaints.  It was concerning that the High Constitutional Court had handed down a decision imposing restrictions on the implementation of international conventions on human rights.  The Commission for Human Rights of the State of Palestine was ready to work with the State of Palestine to bring national legislation in line with the Convention and called on the State of Palestine to redouble efforts to offer better protection to vulnerable groups so that they may enjoy basic rights.  There was still a de facto Hamas Government.  It was outrageous that Israel continued to occupy such a large part of the country.  Despite all the obstacles thrown up by the occupying force, there was a clear political will and intention by the State of Palestine to comply with treaties and conventions that had been acceded to.

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

CHINSUNG CHUNG, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the State of Palestine, commended the State of Palestine for submitting a detailed report and stated that she appreciated the submissions of the Palestinian National Human Rights Institute and non-governmental organizations.

She asked the Government of the State of Palestine to provide up-to-date data on the demographic composition of the population in the whole of the State party’s territory, disaggregated by race, ethnic or national origin.  Were there measures that could be taken to create accurate or comprehensive statistics on the groups protected under the Convention at the national level?  Could the delegation inform the Committee about efforts to revise the Jordanian Penal Code of 1960, the Penal Code of 1936, and the 2011 draft penal code to prohibit and punish discrimination, in line with the Convention? 

Turning to the legal status of the Convention, she asked if its provisions were fully incorporated into national legislation, including through publication in the official gazette?  She sought clarification regarding the National Human Rights Institution’s allegation that some laws listed in the State party’s report were not used for the implementation of article 2 of the Convention.

On harmonization and implementation of legislation, the Rapporteur noted that the current legal framework in Palestine consisted of a mixture of Jordanian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Ottoman and British laws, as well as Israeli military orders, and requested information on the harmonization of the different sets of laws implemented in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to ensure all persons living under the jurisdiction of the State party were afforded equal protection under the law, in line with the Convention.

Regarding access to justice and fair trial, what measures had been taken to raise the awareness of the public of their rights under the Convention, she asked.  As for the Commission for Human Rights, what resources and specific mechanisms did the Government provide the independent Commission for Human Rights to ensure it could monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Convention in an independent manner?

She requested information on the situation of non-governmental organizations within the State of Palestine and asked why civil society groups combatting racial discrimination had not been formed there.  On refugees and displaced persons, could the delegation explain efforts taken to address the issue of nationality for Palestinians who were deprived of citizenship due to prolonged refugee status abroad and discriminatory citizenship laws in occupied Palestinian territories, notably East Jerusalem?

Children and persons with disabilities in armed conflicts were particularly vulnerable to human rights violations.  The Rapporteur asked the delegation to describe the measures taken to address such discrimination.

Questions by Committee Experts

GUN KUT, Committee Rapporteur for follow-up to concluding observations, reminded that the Committee requested that the State party provide information on its follow-up to some of the Committee’s recommendations.  The recommendations that required such follow-up were selected based on their relevance and importance as well as the feasibility of their implementation within one year.  The Committee therefore expected an interim report to be submitted within that time frame.  Timeliness was important, he stressed.

Another Expert asked for information on the impact of the State party’s policies related to education, notably regarding access to schooling, the dropout rate and the challenges faced by children in enjoying access to education.  How did the Government help young Palestinians learn the difference between pride in their culture and discriminating against people that were different?  She asked how education had been used to bolster the State party’s policies related to its citizenship programme.  How were the State party’s policies on culture related to the Roma?

An Expert pointed out that the State party’s neighbours denied the existence of the Roma, who had been subjected to structural discrimination.  They needed support to protect their language.  He requested more information on activities related to the International Decade on African Descent in the State party.

Another Expert remarked that parts of the Palestinian territories were occupied by Israel and this created specific and serious issues vis-a-vis the Convention.  There were, however, territories that were not occupied by Israel.  It was therefore surprising that there was a wealth of information on the territories on which the Palestinian authorities had no effective jurisdiction, and very little information on their own practices in the other territories.  What was, more precisely, the surface of the territories that were occupied by Israel and that of territories that were not?  He noted that the State party’s report stated that the State of Palestine intended to make a declaration as per article 14 of the Convention allowing the Committee to receive individual communications.  It was important to note that this would enable the Committee to examine individual communications against the State of Palestine, not Israel, as Israel had not made the article 14 declaration. 

An Expert pointed out that the notion of minority did not imply second class citizenship.  Could the delegation provide information on the distinction made between different types of minorities, notably those referred to in paragraphs 25 and 86 of the State party’s report?  How did the Government ensure that racial, ethnic and linguistic groups protected under the Constitution not only had access to specific education programmes but also learned about each other?  Did the Government take action to secure the right of various groups to self-representation in the media?

Another Expert noted that the delegation had provided a long list of laws that had been promulgated by the Palestinian authorities.  The Government was in a complicated situation given the multiplicity of jurisdictions.  She requested information on the legislative process that led to the implementation of laws.  To whom were the laws applicable?  How did the Government ensure their enforcement?  Had all the laws mentioned by the delegation been published in the gazette?  What was the judicial system that dealt with the applicability of the laws in the State party?  Were the laws drafted as if they were to apply in Gaza?  She asked if an implementation act was required for international treaties such as the Convention.

An Expert asked about the allegedly discriminatory content, such as racist and anti-Semitic language, in educational materials used in the State party.  The Convention obliged State parties to combat racial discrimination and prejudice, notably through education.  Education was the most effective tool to prevent racial discrimination.  Could the delegation provide concrete examples of recent reviews of textbooks eliminating racist or anti-Semitic components?

Another Expert said the number of complaints filed and the number of related convictions handed down were lacking from the report.  She encouraged the national Commission for Human Rights to analyse closely the concerns that the Committee would be voicing.  On nationality, in the absence of a standalone act, the Government could start to harmonize the domestic laws.  Did the Government have statistics on the number of people who had been stripped of their nationality?  Turning to trafficking, she asked for data on this issue and forced labour.  Could the delegation apprise the Committee on measures taken for the rehabilitation of victims of such practices?

The Committee was not a court but rather a body that provided an area in which constructive dialogue could take place, stated an Expert.  Drawing the Committee’s attention to paragraph 50 of the State party’s report, he asked if the measures outlined addressed the spread of hate speech online.  How were the Jewish and Roma minorities, as well as the people of African descent represented in the media?  On the territories where the State party did not have full jurisdiction, were there mechanisms to ensure the implementation of the Convention?

Another Expert asked what happened when people of different faiths got married.  She requested information on the regulation of domestic work.  What commitment must the employers undertake in that regard?  Were there any non-governmental organizations specialized in racial discrimination and, if so, did they work closely with the Government?

Replies by the Delegation

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, reaffirmed that the State of Palestine was eager and ready to work with all members of the Committee to fulfil Palestine’s objective to fully comply with the Convention.  It was important to understand the legal context that informed the situation under review.  The State of Palestine as a whole was under occupation.  The Government had limited control over the city centres.  It did not control its borders, natural resources or the connections between cities.  This did not mean that the whole of Palestine did not want to move forward, notably through signing treaties and being present before this Committee. 

Certain members of the Committee had talked about both parties vying over the narrative, but there was no getting away from the fact that there was an occupier and an occupied.  This fact was legal in nature, and had been acknowledged by various United Nations bodies such as the Security Council and the General Assembly, and was governed by the rules of international law.  Advancing any pretext of moral equivalence between the occupier and the occupied was not conducive to dialogue.  It was also divorced from reality.  The Palestinians’ fundamental rights to access healthcare, sufficient drinking water, technology, and other basic services were subjected to the whims and policies of the Israeli occupation regime, which went as far as granting itself the right to decide on the calorie consumption of each Gazan.  This regime was not different from other colonial regimes.

On hate speech, Mr. Hijazi said in the context which he had described, dissent and protest were the normal response.  The unbearable conditions under which the Palestinians lived were the main source of violence and created an environment conducive to perpetual conflict.  Talking about Palestinian history did not amount to incitement to hatred.  The State of Palestine had taken all measures possible to ensure that the soul and character of the Palestinian society was preserved and not tarnished by the daily and systematic violence.  Palestinians were determined not to let the cruelty of occupation strip them from humanity.  Israel as the illegal occupant of Palestine was bound by the conditions set forth in the Geneva Conventions.  On home demolitions, Israeli used this cruel measure as a tool of collective punishment.  These demolitions were illegal.  The State of Palestine took measures to provide the needed care to the displaced families. 

Turning to the issue of anti-Semitism, he stated that some individuals were trying to conflate legitimate criticism of Israel and its occupation, and anti-Semitism.  As a point of principle, the State of Palestine rejected and combatted all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.  Palestine did not accept Israel’s claim that it represented all Jews around the world, and did not believe that Jews around the world, or all Israelis, could be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli Government.  The weaponized accusation of anti-Semitism was a ruse devised to silence dissent and should be unequivocally rejected. 

Moving on to education, the delegation explained that there were two school curricula, one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.  The programmes included a human rights component.  The Government had set up a plan for education on human rights that was adapted for four age groups.  It had also cooperated with civil society to create educational guides in that context.  In 2016, the Government had introduced concepts such as the importance of education to foster human rights in school curricula.  There were modules on citizenship, which sought to promote the respect for others and their opinions.  With the help of the Red Cross, the Government had also included humanitarian law in the curricula.  Furthermore, it had organized cultural days that covered all Palestinians, regardless of their origin.  A study had been carried out by the European Union on the Palestinian school curricula, with the cooperation of the State of Palestine. 

Regarding the allegation that the Palestinian curricula included discriminatory elements, the delegation said that, quite to the contrary, the textbooks promoted respect, and 96 per cent of the Palestinian school curricula were in line with United Nations and international standards.  Programmes also talked about the presence of Jews and Judaism, as well as the Jews that were present in Palestine before 1947.  On the map of Israel that was allegedly missing from the curricula, how could the curricula include a map from the 1930s and 1940s for a country that did not exist at the time?   The programmes had been evaluated based on their incorporation of human rights, gender equality and sustainable development goals notions, as well as on their overall quality, by a body comprised of donors and international partners such as USAID.  Most of the people working in this body were not Palestinians.  This evaluation had concluded that Palestinian curricula included all human rights.

The State of Palestine had taken a number of measures to ensure the implementation of human rights instruments within the framework of a comprehensive approach aiming to promote human rights.  For example, the Judicial Inspectorate and the Supreme Judicial Council had prepared and published a guidebook outlining all the international treaties to which Palestine had acceded, and a training course had been given to members of the judiciary in Sweden on Arab jurisprudence related to human rights.  To support the Independent Commission on Human Rights, the State of Palestine provided it with a financial contribution in line with the Paris Principles.  The Commission could also receive funding from other sources.  It had been agreed that the Commission would receive individual complaints as per article 14 of the Convention.  The Commission also acted as an Ombudsperson, and received on average 2,500 human rights-related complaints per year.  

Regarding the situation of refugees, the delegation said that the right of return of Palestinian refugees was inalienable as General Assembly resolution 194 had confirmed.  The Refugee Department provided, mobilized and coordinated assistance to refugees, including projects that developed infrastructure in refugee camps.  The State of Palestine rejected attempts to deprive refugees of their rights, notably the right of return.  It raised the issue of refugees in all international fora and cooperated with international bodies involved in the improvement of the situation and living conditions of refugees.  

Moving on the status of international treaties in national legislation, the delegation said that a sentence had been issued by the Palestinian Cassation Court which had cited the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  There were also other court decisions issued by reconciliation courts that invoked the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, clearly referring to article 19.

On the legal framework addressing hate speech, it should be noted that the law said that belonging to associations set up to incite hatred between communities could lead to imprisonment and that such associations could be dissolved.  The law on publications and the press said that any publication would be suspended for three months if it incited hatred or was hateful to religions.  On trafficking, current legal texts covered sexual exploitation and trafficking in human organs.  Five cases related to sexual exploitation had gone to court, while there had been none related to trafficking in human organs

The code for criminal procedure prohibited travel bans except when they were issued by courts.  For that to happen the judge had to summon concerned individuals and could require that they provide a financial guarantee.  If they were unable to provide it, the travel ban could be imposed.

The Constitutional Court dealt with everything related to the constitutionality of laws and the interpretation of statutory laws.  It also adjudicated disputes between the judiciary and the administration.

The delegation said that Palestinians who lived in the West Bank and Gaza Strip held identification cards from the age of 16.  If a parent did not declare the birth of a child, the child lost the right to obtain such a card.  Those who lived outside of Palestine were not allowed to have this card, even if they were born in Palestine.  This was a card given by the occupying power to exercise control over the Palestinian territories.

The Armenian community was very important and had had an eminent role in public affairs.  They sought to raise attention about the Armenian language.  The State of Palestine had tried to help with the renovation of old convents.

Turning to data on groups protected by the Convention, the delegation said that new indicators, such as indicators related to skin colour, had been recently introduced.  It was difficult to collect statistics regarding groups protected by the Convention as many of the people concerned lived in Jerusalem and the occupying power impeded freedom of movement.  In the next few years, databases drawing from various sources, including the census, would be created.  The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had highlighted some of the problems faced by the country.  A team subsequently had been created to develop formulas for indicators that would correspond to various Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s concluding observations.

The Ministry of Health provided support and created mobile clinics in the towns and areas where Roma, Bedouins and Afro descendants lived.  The occupying power had hindered the provision of services in some areas.  People in nomadic areas, Jericho and Jerusalem had been provided with medical insurance so that they could continue to live in their places of residency.  In Bedouin communities, 120 health workers were providing assistance, focusing on women and children.

On forced marriage, the delegation said relevant legislation covered personal status.  There were two laws, one in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, which stipulated that each person could choose whom they married.  As regards harmful practices related to inheritance, there was no discrimination based on ethnic origin or any other basis.  There needed to be economic equality between both spouses.  

An ordinance on domestic work had been promulgated in 2014, aiming to better define the relationship between the employee and the employer.  The practice of domestic work was not widespread in Palestine.  The State of Palestine was nevertheless trying to develop regulations to address this situation.

Questions by Committee Experts and Replies by the Delegation

A Committee Expert noted that the delegation had said that Israel was effectively occupying the whole of the territories.  He asked for more information about the historical facts and events that had led to such a state of affairs.  He noted that there were according to the delegation several difficulties related to the right to marriage without discrimination in Palestine, including some provisions of the law that prohibited marriage between persons of different faiths.  What measures was the State party taking to ensure that effective discrimination would not take place in the future regarding these issues?  He asked if the State of Palestine took measures to ensure there would be no discrimination in the transmission of nationality.  What sort remedial measures could be expected from administrative courts in relation to cases of racial discrimination.

A common core document was important for various committees, not just this Committee, and this Committee would expect answers on all issues of concern in the next report.

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said a history of the State of Palestine was included at the beginning of the report on events that had led to the current state of occupation.  On the transmission of citizenship, he said citizenship was granted to both genders equally.  Citizenship could also be granted to persons who had parents or grandparents that were Palestinians.  There was nothing in the Palestinian law that revoked citizenship for anyone.  The State of Palestine did not consider any of its people to be stateless.  Palestinians around the world knew their heritage.  As for the common core document, it was being prepared and would be finished by the end of the year.

An Expert asked for information on the status of Jewish people in the State of Palestine.  Was the Government planning on basing minority rights on higher level laws?

Another Expert said that the judiciary faced problems related to the division of the territory.  He requested clarification on the process through which international obligations were automatically incorporated in domestic legislation and ensuring that they prevailed over domestic laws.  How many cases of racial discrimination had been brought before courts?  The fact that cases had been brought before courts did not mean racial discrimination had increased, but rather that people were better informed of their rights.  How did the State party make sure that women were apprised of recent changes related to honour killings?  He requested information on the detention of activists.  He asked if an individual could decide on their own which group they belonged to do, in other words could an individual self-identify.

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said Palestinians could self-identify, that was choose the group or groups they belonged to, but that information did not appear on the identity cards.  On honour killings, more campaigns were ongoing and non-governmental organizations were very active in that area.  The Constitutional Court had been very clear: international obligations had to be harmonized into the domestic legal system.  Being part of a minority did not amount to having a lesser status.  Making sure that people understood this would require training.  The State of Palestine would continue to respect the wish of minorities with regards to their appellation.

An Expert said the efforts that were being made in the State of Palestine to implement the Convention despite challenge was commendable.  He asked if the State of Palestine had any plans to ratify the two international conventions on statelessness.  

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said Hamas’ actions in the Gaza Strip amounted to a coup d’état.  As a result, there was a differentiated application of laws, but the State of Palestine continued to provided services in Gaza.  Looking at the system as a whole, the Constitutional Court had organized the hierarchy of norms.  Currently, the legislative process in Palestine had stagnated due to the split.  Regarding the question on statelessness, the State of Palestine would be certainly considering acceding to international human rights treaties on statelessness.  He stressed, however, that the Palestinians were not stateless.

Concluding Remarks

CHINSUNG CHUNG, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the State of Palestine, thanked the delegation for its sincere answers, which had allowed the Committee to better understand the situation.  She suggested that the State of Palestine undertake serious reforms in its political system.  The Palestine Legislative Council should be reconvened, democratic elections should be held, and reconciliation with Hamas should be achieved urgently.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for its questions and recalled that this was the first report of the State of Palestine.  It was the first time that this Committee was hearing a report from a country that was under occupation.  The delegation had come here to speak about its concerns, seeking the Committee’s guidance and help.  As a people under occupation, the Palestinians had the right to use all tools to end this occupation.  

AMMAR HIJAZI, Assistant Minister of the Multilateral Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said the State of Palestine looked forward to its continued collaboration with all partners to achieve the goal set out by the Palestinian people and reflected in the State of Palestine to the Convention, that was to ensure that the society was free from all forms of discrimination.  He thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue.

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and said that today they had shown that Palestine wanted peace, justice and liberty.

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