GENEVA—Just days before twelve representatives of nongovernmental organizations from around the world were set to arrive in Geneva to brief the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) about Israel’s compliance with the principle international antiracism treaty, CERD agreed to the Government of Israel’s request for an unprecedented second postponement of its review of the State’s treaty compliance. The periodic review is an obligation of all of State parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Israel was originally scheduled for review before CERD in February 2006, but had requested a postponement until August 2006.
Despite CERD’s agreement to the Israeli government’s delay, five members of the NGO coalition arrived in Geneva for a briefing with CERD on Wednesday. They formally proposed that the Committee immediately apply “urgent action procedures,” especially in light of the continuing gravity and escalation of the Government of Israel’s violations of ICERD.
CERD is legally authorized to invoke urgent action and early warning procedures, regardless of whether the State appears before the Committee. That procedure allows CERD to address grave problems requiring immediate attention, in order to urge State compliance with the Convention and prevent or limit serious violations.
The NGO coalition members addressing the CERD Committee contend that Israel’s indiscriminate use of force in Lebanon and Gaza and its destruction of civilian property and infrastructure are an extension of the institutionalized forms of racism and discrimination that Israel has engaged to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian people since 1948. Israel’s bombardment of, and attack on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian population, according to Joseph Schechla of the Housing and Land Rights Network (Habitat International Coalition), is part and parcel of long-standing policies and programs instituted by the Israeli governmental and its parastatal bodies such as World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency to dispossess Palestinians of their land and property, in order to transfer those properties to immigrating Jewish citizens.” “<st1:country-region w:st="on