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UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL REVIEW OF ISRAEL

As authorized by the General Assembly, the United Nations Human Rights Council began in 2008 a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights records of every UN member-state, to be completed in 4-year cycles. The reviews are conducted by interactive meetings between the states in question and a working group of all 47 Council members. Discussions are based on national reports and information from a variety of sources and stakeholders.1

A summary of stakeholders' submissions to the UPR prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights covered both Israel proper and the Occupied Territories (OPT). Here are some of the highlights.

SITUATIONS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

West Bank

  • Israel's occupation of the West Bank and control over the Palestinian Authority (PA) has resulted in the failure of the PA to deliver basic services to Palestinians.
  • The Israeli occupation forces continue to implement policies of systematic killing and targeted assassination, air attacks, incursions, closure and siege, collective punishment destruction of public and private property and infrastructure, and economic sanctions.
  • Ongoing construction of the Wall continues to paralyze the Palestinian economy, leading to unemployment and poverty, and ultimately restricts or denies Palestinians economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Israeli settlers routinely intimidate and use violence against Palestinian civilians, and the Israeli army uses Palestinians as human shields.

East Jerusalem and West Bank

  • House demolitions are used against the Palestinian civilian population under the pretext of building without licenses or as collective punishment.
  • Urban planning measures are designed to change the legal, geographic and demographic status of East Jerusalem.

Gaza Strip

  • IDF incursions into Gaza have killed civilians, destroyed residential structures, and targeted non-military objectives. Israel has never investigated these violations of the laws of war.
  • Complete closure of the Gaza strip has resulted in a harsh humanitarian crisis and catastrophic living conditions. Israel's blockade of Gaza constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population in violation of international humanitarian law.

Occupied Syrian Golan Heights

  • Discriminatory policies exist in the distribution of water, which is controlled by Israel. Illegal Israeli settlers are given preference to this critical resource over the indigenous Syrian population.

SITUATIONS IN ISRAEL PROPER

  • Discrimination and rights violations have been documented against non-Jewish Israeli citizens. These violations relate to the administration of justice and the rule of law, rights to privacy, freedom of movement, education and participation in the cultural life of the community, marriage and family life, the right to work and favorable conditions of work.
  • Regarding Israel's international obligations, several problems have been noted: Israel's non-acceptance of conventions and protocols against torture, discrimination, and the denial of civil and political rights; Israel's refusal to recognize international humanitarian and human rights laws in the OPT; Israel's refusal to comply with the advisory opinion handed down by the International Court of Justice on the construction of a wall in the OPT.

A LIST OF 99 RECOMMENDATIONS WAS PRESENTED TO ISRAEL. A RESPONSE WAS REQUESTED BY MARCH 2009.

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1. Sources and stakeholders refer to treaty bodies, non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, academics, and special rapporteurs (independent experts on specific topics who report to the Council). For the full text, see www.ohchr.org.

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