oPt + 1 more

Palestinian Human Rights NGOs Council Letter: Israel's Accession to the OECD

To: The distinguished representatives of OECD Member States

Dear Sir/Madam,

It has been brought to our attention that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) may allow for the successful accession of the State of Israel to the organisation. The undersigned organisations, which are members of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations, wish urgently to direct your attention to the grave human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and to the possible negative consequences that Israel's accession to the OECD would have for the human rights situation in the oPt.

Some of our concerns in relation to Israeli violations of human rights in the oPt are as follows:

-      The Israeli military occupation of the oPt continues unabated and constitutes the longest occupation in modern human history. It entails grave breaches of international law, including massive land confiscation, settlement building and the implementation of discriminatory policies and practices against the indigenous Palestinian population;

-     Continuing, and uninvestigated, charges of the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the oPt by Israel, in particular the ongoing illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip with all its human rights and humanitarian consequences;

-     The continued existence of the separation Wall, despite it having been deemed illegal and its dismantlement ordered by the highest international legal authority - the International Court of Justice (ICJ);

-     The issuance of draconian Military Orders that effectively legislate for the commission of war crimes, in particular, recently issued Military Order 1650 concerning the 'Prevention of Infiltration', which leaves room for military authorities to deem every inhabitant of the West Bank an infiltrator who can be imprisoned and deported;

-     State-backed, forced evictions and settlement of East Jerusalem which seek to alter the demographic character of Jerusalem and frustrate any peace settlement that would allow East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state;

-     The continued and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment against Palestinians, as legislated for in Israeli law and condoned by the Israeli judiciary, reported by the Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee.

In short, Israel is responsible for egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt. Its behaviour is not only contrary to international law but is inconsistent with the values of the OECD.

The successful accession of Israel to the OECD, without proper scrutiny, would send out a dangerous message to all states that compliance with international law and human rights is unimportant to the OECD, and that states like Israel can continue to violate international law with impunity.

We ask you, therefore, to critically evaluate whether Israel's policies in the oPt adhere to the criteria for accession to the OECD, as set out in the OECD Convention, its legal instruments and in the OECD Roadmap of accession for Israel

In particular, we ask you to:

-     Put the accession process on hold pending a fuller assessment of Israel's policies and conduct in light of OECD principles and values;

-     Ensure that greater consideration of Israel's respect for international law and OECD values are placed on the agenda for the forthcoming Council meeting of 6 May 2010;

-     Not to recognise the illegal acquisition of land by force by Israel in the oPt, in accordance with the ICJ Advisory opinion of 2004, by asserting that Israel must halt construction of the separation Wall and the settlements in the oPt.

We look forward to your response and are ready to facilitate any contact between you and members of the Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organisations, as may be necessary.

Yours sincerely,

Members of the Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organisations

Al-Haq (www.alhaq.org)

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights - Gaza (www.mezan.org)

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (www.addameer.info)

Al Dameer Association for Human Rights (www.aldameer.org)

Jerusalem Legal Aid Center (www.mosaada.org)

Defence for Children International - Palestine Section (www.dci-pal.org)

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (www.ensancenter.org)

Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counselling (www.wclac.org)

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (www.rchrs.org)

This letter is also endorsed by:

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (www.badil.org)