copy of letter to OECD against Israel's accession to the OECD- vote in May

> Mr. Angel Gurria
> Secretary-General OECD
> 2, rue Andre Pascal
> F-75775 Paris Cedex 16
> France
> Fax: +33 (0) 1 45 24 85 00
> 25 September 2008
> Re: Israel's accession to the OECD
> Your Excellency Mr. Angel Gurria, (cc. representatives of delegations of
> all member countries)
> We are writing to express our concerns regarding Israel's accession to the
> Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Israel is
> in compliance with the human rights conditionalities that are components
> the accession process. The undersigned organisations call upon the OECD,
> within the framework of Israel's accession to the OECD, to immediately
> establish a committee to assess the extent to which Israel has complied
> with the OECD criteria of respect for human rights, commitment to
> democracy and adherence to the purposes of the United Nations. We further
> hope and expect that all countries currently applying for accession to
> OECD as well as current members are held to the same high standards.
> In the 'Road Map for the accession of Israel to the OECD Convention',
> adopted by the Council at its 1163rd session on 30 November 2007, the
> Council noted that in order for Israel to accede to the OECD it must
> demonstrate its commitment to "fundamental values" shared by all OECD
> members. These include "a commitment to a pluralist democracy based on the
> rule of law and a respect of human rights, adherence to open and
> transparent market economy principles and a shared goal of sustainable
> development."
> Further the Convention on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
> Development (1960) states that members consider "that economic strength
> prosperity are essential for the attainment of the purposes of the United
> Nations, the preservation of individual liberty and the increase of
> well-being."
> In matters related to its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West
> Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, as well as concerning a range of
> racially discriminatory policies, practices and laws concerning
> citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees, Israel is currently not in
> compliance with either international human rights law, international
> humanitarian law, the stated principles of the OECD, or with the criteria
> set out in the Road Map to Israel's Accession. Common Article 1 of the
> Geneva Conventions states that "The High Contracting Parties undertake to
> respect and to ensure respect for the present convention in all
> circumstances." This article requires all States to refrain from the
> violating the conventions' provisions and their humanitarian principles.
> also requires them to take necessary steps within their power and legal
> authority to ensure that States that violate international humanitarian
> return to compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
> 1. Commitment to a pluralist democracy
> Discrimination - The State of Israel discriminates against 'non-Jewish'
> Palestinian citizens of Israel on the basis of nationality, ethnicity,
> and religion and confers preferential treatment on Jewish citizens. In its
> review of Israel, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
> concluded that the "excessive emphasis upon the State as a 'Jewish State'
> encourages discrimination and accords a second-class status to its
> non-Jewish citizens". It further stated, "This discriminatory attitude is
> apparent in the continuing lower standards of living of Israeli Arabs as a
> result, inter alia, of higher unemployment rates, restricted access to and
> participation in trade unions, lack of access to housing, water,
> electricity and health care and a lower level of education".
> Land rights - In Israel, 93 percent of land is held for the exclusive use
> and benefit of the Jewish people by the State (including the Development
> Authority and Israel Land Administration) and para-state agencies
> (including the World Zionist Organization and Jewish National Fund). Much
> of this land has been expropriated and confiscated from Palestinians
> through laws such as the 1950 Absentee Property Law which has been
> to seize land where its owners are displaced. Palestinian citizens of
> Israel constitute 20% of the citizens of the State. In July 2007, a draft
> bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset which, if adopted into
> law, would establish that land belonging to the Jewish National Fund
> (circa 13% of State lands) could be allocated to Jews only. This issue is
> still pending but it is believed that the draft bill will be adopted into
> law in the near future. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
> Discrimination has urged Israel to "ensure that State land is allocated
> without discrimination, direct or indirect, based on race, colour,
> descent, or national or ethnic origin."
> Family unification - Israel continues arbitrarily to deny Palestinian
> spouses of Israeli citizens, as well as spouses and family members from a
> number of other Arab states, from obtaining legal status in Israel due to
> the enactment of the Citizenship Law. Thousands of Palestinian women who
> are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel and are mothers of children
> with Israeli citizenship, are living without civil status and denied
> social rights, such as access to health care. This law was initially
> passed as a temporary measure but it has been renewed on numerous
> occasions thereby nullifying its temporary nature as a measure of
> emergency scope.
> The Arab Bedouin - Around 84,000 indigenous Arab Bedouin citizens in
> live in villages in the Negev/Naqab which the State refuses to recognize
> and are absent from state planning documents and maps. These individuals
> and communities are denied access to basic services such as water,
> sanitation, health clinics and electricity and are subject to wide-spread
> forced evictions and home demolitions. There are immediate concerns that
> the State intends to conclude their dispossession by seizing, as a final
> legal matter, extensive lands which are owned by them and from which they
> may be displaced.
> 2. Human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories
> In addition to the widespread violations of human rights perpetrated
> against Palestinian citizens of Israel mentioned above, Israel is
> systematically violating the rights of Palestinians living in the
> Palestinian territories (OPT). The International Court of Justice and
> UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies have repeatedly confirmed that
> an Occupying Power Israel is responsible for ensuring the full enjoyment
> of human rights for residents of the OPT. However, Israel still argues
> that it is not bound by and does not apply international human rights law
> in the OPT.
> Some examples of Israel's violations in the OPT, which have been widely
> documented by both United Nations mechanisms and leading human rights NGOs
> include:
> Gaza - Israel maintains effective control over the Gaza Strip. The
> and sanctions on Gaza have lead to the wide-spread denial of economic,
> social and cultural rights including the rights to health, education,
> water and sanitation and have been described by the former UN High
> Commissioner for Human Rights as constituting collective punishment.
> Land Confiscation and Settlements - Israel occupies the entire surface of
> the West Bank (some 5,860 km2) and has confiscated or de facto annexed
> 3,350 km2. The lands confiscated from Palestinians are turned over to the
> exclusive use of Jewish settlers and for building and expanding the
> Jewish-only settlements and related infrastructure. Since the Annapolis
> summit, Israeli tenders and plans announced for construction in the OPT
> amount to almost 30,000 Jewish-only housing units. By March 2008,
> construction was under way in over 100 settlements and 58 "outposts",
> including 16 new outposts/settlements. In occupied East Jerusalem alone,
> new plans and tenders have been announced for construction of almost
> 14,000 housing units since December 2007. This reality of illegal
> settlements in the OPT has led to the confiscation and control of
> Palestinian land and the denial of basic human rights of the Palestinian
> people, first of all their right to self determination.
> Home Demolition - Israel has demolished over 18,000 houses in the OPT
> between 1967 and 2006. In the first quarter of 2008 alone, Israel
> demolished over 120 Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley and
> South Hebron. These demolitions included 61 residential structures and led
> to the displacement of 435 Palestinians. Between January 2000 and
> September 2007, more than 1,600 Palestinian buildings were demolished in
> Area C, whereas over 3,000 houses are at risk of demolition. In the Gaza
> Strip 7,675 homes have been destroyed since the start of the intifada
> (September 2000) to date, affecting 72,533 people. Most of those
> have not been provided alternative houses as Israel prevents construction
> material from entering Gaza to enable local and international
> agencies to complete construction projects for them.
> Ongoing Internal Forcible Displacement - As a result of the land
> confiscation, demolitions and construction of the Wall more than 115,000
> people are estimated to have been internally displaced during the last
> decades of Israel's occupation in the 1967 Palestinian territories.
> The Closure Regime- Residents of the West Bank are denied freedom of
> movement through the construction of the Wall, roadblocks, checkpoints
> as of April 2008) and bypass roads which exclusively serve the illegal
> settlements. Restrictions on movement have negatively affected
> Palestinians' enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, such as the
> to education, work and health.
> Torture and Ill-treatment - Palestinians held in Israeli jails and other
> places of detention are subject to torture and other ill-treatment and
> practice has not been prohibited by the highest judicial body in Israel.
> Moreover, in violation of international humanitarian law, Palestinians
> arrested in the OPT are held in prisons located outside of the OPT
> preventing them from receiving adequate legal representation and family
> visits.
> Refugees - For six decades, the State of Israel has prevented the
> Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes of origin. Today, there
> are approximately 7 million Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian refugee
> situation constitutes the largest and longest unresolved refugee case in
> the world.
> Children- Palestinian children in particular are suffering from the
> widespread abuse of their rights. In 2007, 31 per cent of Palestinian
> deaths were attributable to Israeli military activities in Gaza, 23 per
> cent to Palestinian factional violence in the Gaza Strip, 15 per cent to
> Israeli military activities in the West Bank, and 7 per cent to the
> handling of unexploded Israeli military ordnance in the Gaza Strip. At
> least 345 Palestinian children were injured in the conflict during 2007.
> About 70 per cent of these injuries were attributable to the Israeli
> military, 14 per cent to Palestinian factions, 8 per cent to Israeli
> settlers and 7 per cent to UXO (unexploded ordnance). During 2007, the
> Israeli military arrested and detained approximately 700 Palestinian
> children. At any given time, there were between 310 and 430 Palestinian
> children held in Israeli prisons or detention/interrogation centres,
> around 30 of whom were held at some stage in administrative detention
> without charge or trial. Reportedly, some children held in Israeli
> detention have been subject to torture. Schools have also been subjected
> to attacks by Israeli military and settlers.
> 3. Ensuring the attainment of the purposes of the United Nations
> The UN Charter, in Article 1, sets out the four main purposes of the UN
> which are; to maintain international peace and security; to develop
> friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of
> equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to achieve international
> cooperation and promote and encourage respect for human rights and
> fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex,
> or religion; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
> All of these provisions are systematically violated by the State of
> as a result of its human rights violations listed above.
> Israel continues to ignore the pronouncements of UN human rights treaty
> monitoring bodies some of which are mentioned above. It further has failed
> to implement a number of UN General Assembly and Security Council
> Resolutions relating to human rights including:
> General Assembly Resolution 194, 11 December 1948
> "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at
> peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest
> practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of
> those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property, which
> under the principles of international law or in equity, should be made
> by the Governments or authorities responsible."
> Security Council Resolution 242, 22 November 1967
> Calls for the "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied
> in the recent conflict" as well as the "termination of all claims or
> of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty,
> territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the
> and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries
> free from threats or acts of force".
> General Assembly Resolution 3236, 22 November 1974
> "1. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in
> Palestine, including:
> (a) The right to self-determination without external interference;
> (b) The right to national independence and sovereignty;"
> General Assembly Resolution 146, 4 March 2008
> "Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,
> including the right to their independent State of Palestine"
> The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, 9 July 2004
> Israel has further failed to act in accordance with the July 2004 Advisory
> Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of
> the construction of the wall being built by Israel in the occupied
> Palestinian territory which states that Israel's construction of the wall
> in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in an around East
> Jerusalem, is contrary to international law and Israel is obliged to
> all construction, to dismantle the wall and to make reparation for all
> damage caused by the construction of the wall.
> The undersigned organisations therefore call upon the OECD, within the
> framework of Israel's accession to the OECD, to immediately establish a
> committee to assess the extent to which Israel has complied with the OECD
> criteria of respect for human rights, commitment to democracy and
> to the purposes of the United Nations. We further hope and expect that all
> countries currently applying for accession to the OECD as well as current
> members are held to the same high standards.
> We look forward to your response and an opportunity to meaningfully engage
> with you on these issues.
> With highest regards,
> Salih Booker
> Executive Director
> Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
> 83 Rue de Montbrillant, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
> <>
> Shawan Jabarin
> General Director
> Al-Haq
> Ramallah Main Street, PO Box 1413, West Bank, occupied Palestinian
> territory
> <>
> Hadas Ziv
> Director
> Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-IL)
> Dror st.9 Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
> <>
> Ingrid Jaradat Gassner
> Director
> Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
> PO Box 728, Bethlehem, occupied Palestinian territory
> <>
> Fanny-Michaela Reisin
> President
> (Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte)
> International League for Human Rights - German Section of AEDH and FIDH
> Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte Greifswalder Str.4, D-10405 Berlin,
> Germany
> <>
> George Abu Al-Zulof
> General Director
> Defense for Children International -Palestine Section (DCI/PS)
> PO Box 55201, Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian territory
> <>
> Joseph Schechla
> Coordinator
> Habitat International Coalition- Housing and Land Rights Network
> 11 Tiba Street, 2nd Floor, Muhandisin, Giza, Egypt
> <>
> Hassan Jabareen
> General Director
> Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
> 94 Yaffa Street, PO Box 8921, Haifa 31090, Israel
> <>
> Issam Younis
> Director
> Al Mezan Center for Human Rights-Gaza
> Gaza City, The Gaza Strip, PO Box. 5270, occupied Palestinian territory
> <>
> Kamel Jendoubi
> President
> Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
> Vestergade 16, 2nd Floor, DK-1456 Copenhagen K, Denmark
> <>
> Mohammed Zeidan
> General Director
> Arab Association for Human Rights -HRA
> PO Box 215, Nazareth 16101, Israel
> <>
> Mr. Bo Paulsson
> Secretary General
> The Swedish Organization for Individual Relief/ Individuell Människohjälp
> Box 45, S-221 00 LUND, Sweden
> <>
> Luc Claessens
> Director
> Broederlijk Delen
> Huidevettersstraat 165, 1000 Brussels, Belguim
> <>
> Raji Sourani
> Director
> Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
> Omar El Mukhtar Street, PO Box 1328, Gaza City, occupied Palestinian
> territory
> <>
> Daniel Machover
> Chair
> Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
> C/O Smita Shah, Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London
> WC24 3LS, UK
> Gerhilde Merz
> Coordinator of working team "Israel-Palestine"
> A-4040 Linz, Mengerstraße 23, Austria
> <>
> Abraham Weizfeld
> Interim Administrative Secretary
> Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians
> 68 Duluth Ave. East, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1G8, Canada
> <>
> John McHugo
> Chairman
> Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine
> 26 Sefton Street, London, UK
> <>
> Betty Hunter
> General Secretary
> Palestine Solidarity Campaign
> Box BM PSA, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
> <>
> Chris Doyle
> Director
> The Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU)
> I Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE, UK
> <>
> Paula Abrams-Hourani
> Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (EJJP-Austria)
> Vienna, Austria
> <>
> Anan Quzmar
> Communications Officer
> Action Palestine
> Action Palestine Society, University of Manchester Students Union, Oxford
> Road, Manchester, M13 9PR, UK
> <>