Since its last UPR in 2012, Israel has further cemented a two-tiered discriminatory system that treats Palestinians separately and unequally, dispensing varying sets of inferior rights depending on where they are from. The regime of institutionalized discrimination applies to virtually every aspect of life, including freedom to build, access to resources, security of legal status and freedom of movement.
Systematic rights violations during Israel’s now fifty-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and inside its border include:
- Unlawful killings: During the review period, Israeli forces have killed more than 1,400 Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including hundreds of children. Many of these attacks amounted to violations of international humanitarian law, some war crimes. Israeli official investigations have largely failed to hold to account those who carry out unlawful attacks and authorities have shrunk the space in Israel and Palestine for rights groups combatting impunity.
- Illegal settlements: Israel has established 237 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, housing approximately 607,000 settlers in contravention of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli officials, who openly speak of their intent to maintain their settler population “forever,” apply a separate and unequal system of laws, rules and services for Palestinians as compared to settlers in the West Bank.
- Forced displacement, restrictions on movement, and abusive detention.
Mr. President, Human Rights Watch deplores the fact that Israel has refused to participate in today’s adoption of its UPR report. We urge Israel to nonetheless implement all accepted recommendations.
In its own UPR report under consideration today, Israel states:
“1. The State of Israel remains committed to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). As noted by Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office in Geneva: "we believe that if implemented properly, the UPR can be a useful instrument in promoting human rights worldwide". We are very grateful for the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, aimed at exploring ways to improve Israel’s human rights record and to learn from the experience of other countries.”
Apparently, these were just empty words.
This is but the latest example of a history of non-cooperation, illustrating that Israel is unwilling to undergo international scrutiny of its human rights record, irrespective of the Council agenda item under which this takes place.