UN has decided to investigate Palestinian complaint that Israeli occupation state is promoting apartheid policies in the West Bank.
Israeli journalist from Israeli TV Channel 13 News Barak Ravid reported that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva took this decision ten days ago.
The importance of this decision, Ravid says, it came several days before the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a step toward opening an investigation against Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.
A determination about Israeli policies by the UN CERD, Ravid says, will be deemed authoritative by international bodies such as the ICC.
In 2014, the Palestinian Authority joined the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Israel is also party to.
Last year, in April, the Palestinians filed an official complaint against Israel to the UN committee, stating that the Israeli policies in the West Bank are similar to apartheid in South Africa.
Ravid reported Israeli officials saying that Israel had notified the UN committee that it does not recognise the PA’s membership of CERD.
Therefore, Ravid reported that when the Palestinian complaint reached the committee a year and a half ago, its members did not know whether they had jurisdiction to discuss it.
It is worth noting that the Palestinian complaint was the first time ever that state or a state-like entity filed a complaint against another member of the convention, Ravid said.
He added: “In the 1980s, Syria sought to file a complaint against Israel, but that it was rejected by the committee because Syria didn’t recognize Israel.”
Following the PA’s complaint, the CERD asked the UN legal adviser in New York for his legal opinion on whether it has jurisdiction to discuss the Palestinian complaint due to this unique situation.
The UN legal adviser presented an opinion arguing that because Israel does not recognise the Palestinians as being a party to the convention, the committee does not have jurisdiction and the complaint must be rejected.
However, the committee decided on 12 December that it has jurisdiction to investigate the Palestinian complaint.
Therefore, the CERD will begin a process of conciliation between Israel and the Palestinians and invite both sides for a hearing.
At the end of the process, the committee will determine whether the Palestinian complaint was warranted and issue recommendations.
Meanwhile, Israel still has not decided whether it will cooperate with the proceedings, but Israeli officials said that it most likely will not.
The Israeli officials told Ravid: “It looks like a predetermined result and we are not sure there is any point in taking part in such a process.”