PRESS RELEASE --

21 MAY 2001 – IN LETTER TO ISRAEL, UN COMMITTEE REPEATS ALARM OVER HUMAN
RIGHTS VIOLATIONS STEMMING FROM ITS OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN
TERRITORIES, CALLS FOR OTHER UN BODIES TO TAKE ACTION TO UPHOLD HUMAN
RIGHTS (text of letter included below).

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, at its 25th
Session 11 May 2001, issued a letter to the Israeli Mission in Geneva
reiterating their "deep concern over accounts that Israel's recent
actions in the occupied [Palestinian] territories [OPT] in violation of
international human rights and humanitarian law have resulted in gross
violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians."
In the letter, which was released publicly on 21 May, the Committee
expressed grave concern over the violation of the Palestinian people's
right to self-determination and the expropriation and devastation of
Palestinian land. The Committee’s findings were in contrast to those of
the recently released Mitchell Report, which largely ignored human
rights violations stemming from Israeli occupation of Palestinian
territories.

In an unusual move, the Committee took the step of alerting the UN
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the main UN supervisory body
responsible for human rights issues, of its findings. It further
stressed that other UN and international bodies need to take action in
order to uphold the integrity of the Covenant. The Committee further
advised ECOSOC of Israel’s continuing refusal to apply the human rights
Covenant to the OPT by claiming that jurisdiction in the OPT has been
transferred to others, namely the Palestinian Authority. In its letter
to Israel the committee reaffirmed the legal position shared with other
treaty-monitoring bodies that Israel does have jurisdiction,
"particularly in view of Israel currently besieging all the Palestinian
territories occupied in 1967."  ECOSOC will review the information
provided on 27 July 2001.
-- PRESS RELEASE --
21 May 2001 – In letter to Israel, UN Committee repeats alarm over human
rights violations stemming from its occupation of Palestinian
territories, calls for other UN bodies to take action to uphold human
rights (text of letter included below).

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, at its 25th
Session 11 May 2001, issued a letter to the Israeli Mission in Geneva
reiterating their "deep concern over accounts that Israel's recent
actions in the occupied [Palestinian] territories [OPT] in violation of
international human rights and humanitarian law have resulted in gross
violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians."
In the letter, which was released publicly on 21 May, the Committee
expressed grave concern over the violation of the Palestinian people's
right to self-determination as a result of the continuing occupation,
and other violations of human rights, including the expropriation and
devastation of Palestinian land. The Committee’s findings were in
contrast to those of the recently released Mitchell Report, which
largely ignored human rights violations stemming from Israeli occupation
of Palestinian territories.

In an unusual move, the Committee took the step of alerting the UN
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the main UN supervisory body
responsible for human rights issues, of its findings. It stressed that
other UN and international bodies need to take action in order to uphold
the integrity of the Covenant. The Committee further advised ECOSOC of
Israel’s continuing refusal to apply the human rights Covenant to the
OPT by claiming that jurisdiction in the OPT has been transferred to
others, namely the Palestinian Authority. In its letter to Israel the
committee reaffirmed the legal position shared with other
treaty-monitoring bodies that Israel does have jurisdiction,
"particularly in view of Israel currently besieging all the Palestinian
territories occupied in 1967."  ECOSOC will review the information
provided on 27 July 2001.

The Center for Economic and Social Rights, in partnership with other
NGOs contributed to the evidence already at the Committee’s disposal,
supporting its observations in its communication of last week. CESR
commends the Committee for recognizing the need for a concerted effort
within the UN system to apply norms of international human rights and
humanitarian law to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Please note the attached document dated officially 11 May 2001 and
issued for the public yesterday, 21 May 2001.

For more information please contact Sarah Zaidi (718) 237-9145.
***********************************************************************
S.E.  M. Yaakov Levy
Permanent Representative,
Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations Office and
Specialized Agencies at Geneva
 
Your Excellency,
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights acknowledges with
appreciation the receipt of additional information to Israel's initial
report as requested by the Committee in its Concluding Observations.
However, the additional report was submitted beyond the date requested
by the Committee and as a result the additional information could not be
translated into the required working languages in time for its
consideration on 4 May 2001 during the Committee's 25th session.

Your Excellency will recall that in its Concluding Observations in
relation to the initial report of Israel, the Committee requested the
submission of additional information in time for its 24th session in
November-December 2000. The Committee wishes to emphasize that some of
the additional information in particular where it concerns the occupied
territories was requested "in order to complete the State party's
initial report and thereby ensure full compliance with its reporting
obligations" (para. 32). The Committee therefore regrets that this
current delay in submitting the additional information has resulted in
another postponement of its consideration to the forthcoming 26th
session of the Committee in August 2001.

The Committee reiterates the legal position shared by other treaty
bodies that Israel's international treaty obligations as with this
Covenant, apply to territories within its internationally recognized
borders as well as other areas under its jurisdiction and effective
control, including Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The State
party's argument that jurisdiction has been transferred to other parties
is not valid from the perspective of the Covenant, particularly in view
of Israel currently besieging all the Palestinian territories it
occupied in 1967.  In response to Your Excellency's letter of 19 April
2000,  the Committee reaffirms the principle that political processes,
domestic legislation, scarcity of resources, or agreements with other
parties do not absolve a State from its obligations to ensure the
progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights as
provided for by the Covenant.

At its 25th session, the Committee had at its disposal a variety of
recent reports including those of the Commission of Inquiry
(E/CN.4/2001/121 of 16 March 2001), of the Special Rapporteur
(E/CN.4/2001/30 of 21 March 2001) and of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/114 of 29 November 2000), as
well as the letter of the Permanent Representative of Israel addressed
to the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/133 of 23
February 2001). In light of these and other available reports, the
Committee reiterates its deep concern over accounts that Israel's recent
actions in the occupied territories in violation of international human
rights law and humanitarian law have resulted in gross violations of the
economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians. The Committee
regrets that the ongoing conflict has resulted in the loss of
Palestinian and Israeli lives. The Committee is particularly concerned
about the lack of protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT and
the renewed maltreatment of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.  Among
a number of issues, the Committee expresses grave concern about the
following situations, which have serious implications for the enjoyment
of economic, social and cultural rights:
• The violation of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination
through the continuing occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and
Gaza Strip.
• State party's continuing expropriation of Palestinian national
resources including land and aquifers for exclusive Jewish control.
• The expropriation and devastation of vast areas of Palestinian lands
by Israelis in the occupied territories resulting in grave hardships
particularly for farmers and agricultural workers.
• Continued establishment and expansion of illegal Jewish settlements
throughout the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, West Bank and
Gaza Strip including those straddling the "green line".
• The destruction of Palestinian homes, mosques, churches, hospitals,
public buildings, power plants and commercial establishments through
various means including heavy weaponry.
• Closures imposed solely on Palestinians, impeding access to health
care, education, economic activities pertaining to employment and
livelihood, and to the integrity of the family and the right to take
part in cultural life through religious expression.
• The prevention by the State party military and security forces of
medical aid and personnel from ministering to injured Palestinians and
the attack of clearly marked medical vehicles and personnel.
• Discrimination in law enforcement practices, including the
disproportionate use of force and procedures against Palestinians in the
occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Your Excellency, the Committee welcomes the recent submission of
additional information by Israel and appreciates this opportunity to
address the situation of the Covenant within its territories. The
Committee looks forward to a constructive dialogue with State party's
delegation on 17 August 2001 when it considers the additional
information already submitted by State party.
Please accept assurances of my highest consideration.

Sincerely,
 
 

Virginia Bonoan Dandan
Chairperson
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights