west bank road 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel argued this week that a major human rights treaty, the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, did not apply to its treatment of
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, because those areas were outside the
country’s national boundaries, even as it defended its record on that score
before the covenant’s monitoring body in Geneva.
According to a press
release put out on Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Committee, which held its
periodic review of Israel’s compliance with that convention this week, Israel’s
deputy attorney-general Malkiel Blass stated that his country believed the
“convention, which was a territorially bound convention, did not apply, nor was
it intended to apply, to areas outside its national territory.”
nine hours of testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Israeli delegation
that Israel had limited government authority in the West Bank and the
Strip, and therefore was not in a position to “enforce the rights under
Covenant in those areas.”
The delegation said that “Israel did not
control these territories and thus could not enforce the rights under
Convention in these areas.”
It said, however, that “the rules governing
armed conflict provided some measure of rights guarantees in these
A UN Human Rights Committee expert rejected the argument and said
that Israel could “not just sweep aside the application of the Covenant
The expert added that Israel responded the same
way each time the issue came up for review. Israel’s last review was in
Many of the committee’s questions for Israel dealt with its
treatment of the Palestinians, including the Gaza blockade, May’s
incident, Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, freedom
movement, the West Bank security barrier, housing demolitions in east
water rights and treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
It also wanted to
know about human rights within the pre- 1967 armistice lines, including
treatment of women, Arab Israelis and Beduin. The committee members also
about Israel’s state of emergency, which has been in place since the
the state in 1948.
The committee expressed concern about hate speech by
politicians, although it did not mention anyone by name.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is considered one
more significant treaties on human rights.
Israel ratified it in 1991 and
takes it very seriously, according to diplomatic sources.
the Justice and Foreign ministries traveled to Geneva this week to help
Israel’s record on these matters to the committee.