In anticipation of the upcoming meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) would like to welcome the opportunity for a review of those issues that have affected the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel this year. This meeting comes at a crucial time for the Palestinian Arab minority. There are ongoing abuses of human rights being perpetrated in Israel the Occupied Territories. The HRA calls for an immediate definition of clear human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) benchmarks with which Israel should comply before the EU considers expanding bilateral relations.
The HRA encourages the EU-Israel Association council to address human rights abuses committed in the Occupied Territories (OPT). The Council should concern itself with the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, restrictions to freedom of movement, forced displacement in Area C, violations of international law in East Jerusalem, illegal settlements, and the general culture of impunity in Israel.
In accordance with the HRA mandate for the protection of the human rights of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, the HRA would like to specifically call for the Council to review the abuses inherent in the “Prawer Plan” for the Arab Bedouin relocation in the Naqab. The “Prawer Plan law”, or “The Law for Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev”, was passed on January 3, 2012 and is a part of the government-approved redistricting of the Naqab in a discriminatory effort targeting the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin residents. In effect, this law would cause the immediate displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel.
The HRA would also call the attention of the EU-Israel Council to the many discriminatory laws being considered by the Knesset currently. The recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Citizenship Law is particularly deserving of focus. It restricts Palestinian Arabs citizens of Israel from living with their spouses from the OPT or “enemy states” including Syria, Iraq,Iran, and Lebanon. The agreements made on May 14th and 15th of 2012 regarding the upgrade of status for many Palestinian Arab administrative detainees in Israel should be upheld. Provisions of those agreements that have not yet been allowed include; the renewal of family visitation, ending the practice of solitary confinement, and the release of those prisoners who were promised to be set free. These prisoners continue to live in conditions which violate IHL and the UN Convention against Torture. The “Nakba” law is another affront to internationally recognized human rights. This law restricts the Palestinian Arab minority of Israel from publically demonstrating in reference to the Nakba on Israeli Independence Day. These are laws in the process of approval in the Knesset or laws that have already been deemed legal and the HRA believes that the EU-Israel Council should review the human rights violations implicit in their design especially considering the content of Article #2 of the “Association Agreement” which is a stipulation for the protection of human rights
UPDATE: EU-Israel Association Council commissioner Stefan Fule gave a press conference after their agenda setting meeting yesterday. He announced that “some of our concerns include the situation of the Arab minority and the Bedouin community”. Also, they recognize the role of a thriving NGO sector and civil society in defending freedom of speech and freedom of association. They are recognizing the efforts of the HRA and our fellow NGOs. Get involved to help keep human rights and the Arab Palestinian minority on the agenda!
Read Commissioner Fule’s full statement here