Sunday, December 19, 2010

HRW’s Report on the Occupied Territories: “Separate But Unequal” at Best

Human Rights Watch has published a 166 page report that compares Israel's treatment of Israelis and Palestinians in Area C (under Israeli jurisdiction) in the West Bank. Its conclusion: Israel lavishes money on the settlements, their infrastructure, and their quality of life, while spending bubkis on the Palestinians. Worse, there seems to be a deliberate policy of weakening the Palestinian sector, while controlling its lands, resources, and in general making things difficult for Palestinians.

Before you say, "Ho hum, tell me something I don't know," I urge you to read the report, or at least the main findings here. One finds important case studies that are examined in great detail. It's one thing to know that there is discrimination. It's quite another to read the extent. Even the jaded will be shocked.

Here are some of the summary findings

(Jerusalem) - Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report identifies discriminatory practices that have no legitimate security or other justification and calls on Israel, in addition to abiding by its international legal obligation to withdraw the settlements, to end these violations of Palestinians' rights.

The report is based on case studies comparing Israel's starkly different treatment of settlements and next-door Palestinian communities in these areas. It calls on the US and EU member states and on businesses with operations in settlement areas to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law.

"Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits," said Carroll Bogert, deputy executive director for external relations at Human Rights Watch. "While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp - not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes."

Israeli policies control many aspects of the day-to-day life of Palestinians who live in Area C and East Jerusalem. Among the discriminatory burdens imposed on Palestinians that Human Rights Watch found are Israeli practices of expropriating land from Palestinians for settlements and their supporting infrastructure; blocking Palestinians from using roads and reaching agricultural lands; denying access to electricity and water; denying building permits for houses, schools, clinics, and infrastructure; and demolishing homes and even entire communities. Such measures have limited the expansion of Palestinian villages and imposed severe hardships on residents, including leaving them with limited access to medical care.

By contrast, Israeli policies promote and encourage Jewish settlements to expand in Area C and East Jerusalem, often using land and other resources that are effectively unavailable to Palestinians. The Israeli government grants numerous incentives to settlers, including funding for housing, education, and infrastructure, such as special roads. Those benefits have led to the consistent and rapid expansion of settlements, the population of which grew from approximately 241,500 inhabitants in 1992 to roughly 490,000 in 2010, including East Jerusalem.

In most cases where Israel has acknowledged differential treatment of Palestinians - such as when it bars them from "settler-only" roads - it has asserted that the measures are necessary to protect Jewish settlers and other Israelis who are subject to periodic attacks by Palestinian armed groups. But no security or other legitimate rationale can explain the vast scale of differential treatment of Palestinians, such as permit denials that effectively prohibit Palestinians from building or repairing homes, schools, roads, and water tanks, Human Rights Watch said.

Moreover, in addressing security concerns, Israel often acts as if all Palestinians pose a security threat by virtue of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, rather than narrowly tailoring restrictions to specific individuals who are shown to pose a threat. The legal prohibition of discrimination prohibits such broad-brush restrictions.

"The world long ago discarded spurious arguments to justify treating one group of people differently from another merely because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin," Bogert said. "It's time for Israel to end its policies of discrimination and stop treating Palestinians under its control markedly worse than Jews in the same area."

So convincing is the HRW report that even its nemesis NGO Monitor apparently finds little to quarrel about, besides disagreeing with the some "rhetoric" and "baseless accusations". NGO Monitor does not dispute any of the data, nor does it show where the report contains inaccuracies, exaggerations, or falsehoods. Instead, NGO monitor criticizes HRW for the timing of its report, implying that were it to have waited until a better time, there would be little to complain about. For the rather silly boilerplate response we have come to expect from the well-funded slime machine, see here

Needless to say, NGO Monitor's whining about not taking into context terrorism (hello – what terrorism has there been in the last five years?) does not respond to the HRW's claim above that this discrimination has nothing to do about security. Of course, one could claim that taking land from Palestinians, making their lives miserable, and punishing them collectively, is the best way to deter them terrorism. That may be NGO monitor's argument.

In any event, support for HRW's claim that little of this discrimination is about Israelis security is corroborated by Breaking the Silence's forthcoming 500-page book of soldiers testimonies about the Occupation. More on that later.

Of course, we all know that BtS is funded by the NIF and European governments, rahmanah letzalan (NGO Monitor also has never disputed any of BtS's findings, either. It's must easier to slime it through guilt by association…with European democracies that Israel considers allies!)


Anonymous said...

when it comes to israel, hrw has no credibility (i would question their credibility regarding the rest of the world too) and there is not one "settler only" road...and you live know it

nice of them to change the meme from "jew only" to "settler only"

where is their outrage at israelis not being allowed into arab controlled areas of the west bank...or muslim only roads in places like saudi arabia

wouldnt even bother using this report as toilet paper

Unknown said...

"The world long ago discarded spurious arguments to justify treating one group of people differently from another merely because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin"

But the Palestinians in the West Bank are not being treated differently because of their race, ethnicity or national origin - but because of their NATIONALITY - they are not citizens of Israel but of the Palestinian Authority. They do not pay taxes to Israel - the settlers in settlements do. Palestinians with Israeli citizenships are not treated differently when they are in Israel or in the West Bank. At least not with regards to the different treatment issues mentioned in this report.

Jerry Haber said...


Excuse me, but on what planet do you live.

Israel has sole jurisdiction in Area C; ergo, it is directly responsible for the welfare of the Palestinians in Area C, even more so because they are an occupying power. They are not allowed to make any change in the status quo unless it is to the benefit of the Palestinians.

"Palestinians with Israeli citizenships are not treated differently when they are in Israel or in the West Bank. At least not with regards to the different treatment issues mentioned in this report."

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship don't live in the West Bank.

There is discrimination in the government treatment of Israeli Jews who live in the territories and those who live within the State of Israel -- to the detriment of the latter.

Finally, you know that there is ethnic discrimination of Israeli Palestinians within Israel -- and there should be, because it is a Jewish state, right?

I note with pleasure that you did not contest a single finding of the report, which I am sure you read carefully.

Anonymous said...


exactly what purpose does the pa have...why does america and the rest of the world send it monies...and why to the arabs pay taxes to it?

and what does autonomy mean to you and hrw?