(August 14, 2019 / JNS) The United Nations’s anti-racism committee began a mandatory two-day review on Tuesday of the policies and practices of the Palestinian Authority, whose delegation responded by criticizing experts of the 18-member panel for asking about anti-Semitic incitement based on evidence provided by international human-rights group UN Watch, whose 32-page shadow report on Palestinian discrimination was labeled by the Palestinian Authority as “propaganda.”
Prior to their questioning of the P.A., members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) were addressed by UN Watch legal adviser Dina Rovner in a meeting with non-governmental organizations, as well as in a private briefing. Rovner highlighted the gross and systematic anti-Semitism by the P.A. and Hamas, as documented in a written submission by UN Watch.
It also called attention to the failure of the Palestinian delegation—headed by Ammar Hijazi, deputy foreign minister for multilateral affairs—to acknowledge any of this in its submissions to the world body.
“Our shadow report and presentations today exposed how the P.A.’s submissions to the committee completely ignored racist and discriminatory Palestinian practices, and how they tried to evade responsibility by shifting the focus of the review onto Israel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Notably, groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which lobbied for the Palestinians to be recognized as a state for the purpose of signing human-rights treaties, saying this would hold them to account, did not make a submission or statement for this first-ever review of the Palestinians by the U.N. anti-racism committee.
Several of the U.N. experts pressed the P.A. on its failure to implement anti-discrimination policies, requesting proof that textbook materials had been reviewed for anti-Semitic material, and asking for explanations for Palestinian officials’ documented incitement to terrorism.
Out of some 40 Palestinian human-rights groups who appeared in the same U.N. building when Israel was reviewed earlier this year, only one, Al Haq, appeared at today’s review of the Palestinian Authority. This raised questions as to whether their primary focus in on improving Palestinian human rights, said Neuer.
UN Watch’s detailed submission revealed that the P.A. and Hamas routinely violate international commitments to combating racism, through laws, policies and statements aimed at denying any Jewish rights in Israel or the Palestinian-controlled territories.
By contrast, in its own report, the P.A. sought to minimize its obligations as a party to the anti-racism convention by failing to address the problem of racism in Palestinian law and society, and, as the U.N. experts realized, instead repeatedly tried to blame Israel.
“The P.A. exploits the reporting process of the anti-racism committee as yet another U.N. vehicle to attack Israel. This is a waste of the committee’s time and resources, as Israel is subject to its own review later this year,” said Neuer.
In nearly two hours of presenting before the committee, the P.A. blamed Israel for its problems related to discrimination, devoting only a few minutes to its own policies and practices.
The Palestinian delegates told the committee of their life “under Israel’s racist occupation” and “the presence of apartheid,” contrasted with the P.A.’s alleged “commitment to work towards harmonizing legislation with the U.N. conventions.”
In a rare plea, the P.A. delegation asked for “slack” from the committee for its first-ever review. Several of the U.N. experts pressed the P.A. on its failure to implement anti-discrimination policies, requesting proof that textbook materials had been reviewed for anti-Semitic material, and asking for explanations for Palestinian officials’ documented incitement to terrorism.
The U.N. panel’s review of the Palestinians continues through Wednesday morning.
“We trust that the committee will continue its work to hold the P.A. and Hamas accountable for their flagrant violations of the U.N.’s convention against racism and the principles of international human-rights law,” said Neuer.
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