Palestinian diplomats in Geneva filed complaint against Israel for breaches of its obligations under UN anti-racism treaty, triggering what may be lengthy and high-profile investigation.
The complaint, handed in by the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Khraishi, to the body that monitors the implementation of the UN convention, accuses Israel of policies and practices that have “the common aim of displacing and replacing the Palestinian people, for the purpose of maintaining a colonial occupation.”
Violations in the occupied territories, which the complaint defined as the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, sought to maintain “a Jewish demographic majority in the entirety of historic Palestine,” claims the 350-page document.
“Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights,” it adds.
Israel ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1979 and, Palestine, which gained UN observer state status five years ago, signed in 2014. The submission is believed to be the first interstate complaint filed under the treaty.
The convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of 18 independent experts that is now tasked with assessing the complaint.
Although the committee has no enforcement mechanisms, Israel will now be required to submit written explanations within three months, including any remedies it has taken. The committee could then move to investigate the claims.
“It does not reach the level of a court order,” said Ammar Hijazi, from the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs. But he said a finding that Israel had breached the treaty would oblige other signatories to the convention, which include the US, to “ensure that such practices are not continued.”