Ben White writes: This is Israel in 2012 according to a top UN body. Using unprecedented strong language, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) criticised Israeli policies in terms of “apartheid”, as part of their published [PDF] observations following a regular review.
Affirming the kind of analysis that Israel’s advocates try to dismiss as lies or rhetorical excess, the Committee slammed Israel for violating the right to equality in numerous policy areas. CERD described “segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities”, a lack of “equal access to land and property”, and “the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities” in the Negev.
The lack of a “prohibition of racial discrimination” in Israel’s Basic Law was highlighted, and more recent developments, such as the restrictions on family unification affecting Palestinian citizens were also part of CERD’s wide-ranging criticisms.
The Committee’s observations also covered Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories, showing how the same discriminatory patterns are found on both sides of the Green Line. Israeli settlements in the West Bank form part of a regime of “de facto segregation” severe enough to cause the Committee to remind Israel of the “prohibition” of policies of “apartheid”.
According to Dr David Keane, senior lecturer in law at Middlesex University and author of ‘Caste-based Discrimination in International Human Rights Law’, this is “the most cutting CERD recognition and condemnation of a legal system of segregation since apartheid South Africa”.