On 23 April 2018, the State of Palestine filed an inter-state complaint against Israel alleging violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD/the Convention). Since then, the Committee has examined the issues of jurisdiction and admissibility, including the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
On 21 May 2021, the Committee decided in favor of the State of Palestine and allowed the complaint to proceed and called for a Conciliation Commission to be established. This is only the third time in history that such a Commission has been established for an ICERD inter-state complaint, with the other two coming in relation to disputes between Qatar v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar v. United Arab Emirates.
ICRED was first opened for signature and ratification in 1965. Israel ratified the convention in 1979, and the State of Palestine acceded to it in 2014. Following the State of Palestine’s accession, Israel issued a statement of objection declaring that it did not recognize Palestine as a State party to ICERD and that it considered that the accession of Palestine would not have any effect on Israel’s relations and obligations under the Convention. Further that Palestine did not comply with the procedures for filing an inter-state complaint, in particular, the requirement that Palestine exhaust all potential domestic remedies, as required by Article 11(3) of ICERD, including through the use of Israel’s courts, which Israel argues are legitimate and adequate venues to hear complaints by Palestinian nationals against Israeli officials for rights violations. These arguments form the foundation of one of Israel’s now-failed objections against the admissibility of the State of Palestine’s complaint.
Palestine countered these claims on multiple fronts. First, Palestine argued that Israeli courts are not adequate venues for bringing claims against Israel and Israeli officials for rights violations, particularly in the context of Israel’s illegal settlements. To highlight this inadequacy, Palestine pointed out that Israel did not cite to any case law that shows how Palestinian rights could be vindicated on an individual basis in Israeli courts. Palestine also pointed out to the Committee that the restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement have made it unduly difficult, if not functionally impossible, for Palestinians to reliably access Israeli courts as both plaintiffs and as witnesses. Lastly, Palestine contended that Israel’s violations are the result of an administrative practice and are therefore systemic, rather than individualized, violations.
On 21 May 2021, the Committee decided in favor of the State of Palestine, finding the communication admissible and establishing a Conciliation Commission.
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