Presentation of the Second Periodic Report Pursuant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)
August 4, 2001

Yesterday (August 3), the State of Israel presented to the United Nations the Second Periodic Report Pursuant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

According to this Covenant, to which Israel is a party to since 1991, Israel is required to report on the manner of implementation, from both the legal and practical standpoints, of each of the human rights protected by the Covenant. The report was prepared as a cooperative effort between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, and it contains extensive information regarding changes and developments that took place between 1997 and the date of the reports composition (August 2000).

The current report reveals a continuation of the trend of expanding social services anchored in extensive social legislation as well as court decisions. The report also indicated a continued narrowing of gaps between the various sectors of the population, as initially indicated by the first Periodic Report presented by Israel in 1997.

Notable elements in the report include: developments regarding the provision of benefits for the severely disabled; implementation of a five-year plan (1995-1999) for development in the Druze and Circassian sectors; prioritization of the establishment of classrooms in the Arab, Bedouin, and Druze sectors during the year 2000; and a gradual decrease in the distinctions, previously made by in the various branches of the National Insurance Institute, between housewives and other women. Among the improvements noted, the report also points to a stabilization of the extent of poverty in the years 1997-1998, as compared to previous years of gradual increase. In addition, the report indicates an increase in life expectancy, a significant decrease in infant mortality rate, and a marked rise in education attendance levels as well as an increased number of those completing their studies in all sectors of the education system.

During the period covered in the report, the scope of affirmative action programs for Israeli Arabs, women, and people with disabilities has been broadened. The most prominent example is the October 2000 decision of the Government of Israel to designate resources for all areas of social development in the Arab communities of Israel, at a total cost of approximately 1 billion USD during the years 2001-2004.

The report as a whole establishes Israel’s impressive record in meeting the challenges presented by the Covenant. This achievement is remarkable especially against the background of the complicated situation caused by the ongoing and violent conflict in the Middle East, alongside the challenge of integrating new immigrants.