Israel should ease roadblocks and other restrictions on Palestinians and put a stop to settler violence and hate speech, a United Nations rights watchdog said on Friday.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said Israel's security measures to ward off
suicide bombings and other attacks must be recalibrated to avoid discrimination against Arab Israelis or Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
The committee, which met for four weeks in Geneva, concluded that Israel should cease building the security fence in and around the West Bank and ensure that its various checkpoints and road closures do not reinforce segregation.
It also voiced concern at an unequal distribution of water resources, a disproportionate targeting of Palestinians in house demolitions and the "denial of the right of many Palestinians" to return to their land.
The committee, whose recommendations are not legally binding, also said that differing applications of criminal law between Jews and Arabs had caused "harsher punishments for Palestinians for the same offense."
A high number of complaints by Arab Israelis against police officers are not properly investigated and many Arabs suffer discriminatory work practices and high unemployment, it said.
Excavations beneath and around the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's holiest site in Jerusalem, should also be undertaken in a way that will "in no way endanger the mosque and impede access to it", it added.
Israel argues that the UN Committee's report, meant to ensure compliance with a 1965 international treaty against racial discrimination which Israel has ratified, does not apply to the Gaza and West Bank.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, told the committee last month it was crucial to understand the pressing security threats faced by his country.